Spectrum licensing and reforms underway to boost telecom sector, says Devusinh Chauhan, Telecom News, ET Telecom


NEW DELHI: The Center is currently working on spectrum licensing and policy initiatives aimed at reducing the scope of litigation and making it easier to do business. In an interview with Muntazir Abbas of ETTelecom, Minister of State for Communications Devusinh Chauhan said the recent reforms have sent a signal around the world that India continues to be a business-friendly destination. He added that the trend of lowest average revenue per user (ARPU) is reversing and another round of investment should begin soon, with 5G spectrum auctions likely in mid-2022. Edited excerpts.

Following the broad sector program announced in mid-September, what are your ministry’s top priorities that can now help India achieve a $1 trillion digital economy?

The Indian telecom services market is very robust and the demand for telecom services has grown exponentially in recent years, even during the COVID period. On the supply side too, the industry has a perfect mix of large, medium and small players providing a range of specialized services. The government has implemented a series of measures to stimulate investment and growth in the telecommunications sector, such as the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme of Rs 12,195 crore for domestic manufacturing of telecommunications equipment. telecommunications, opening the sector to 100% foreign investment automatically. , the proposal to connect all villages through fiber optic connectivity, among others.

Have you seen tangible effects of structural and procedural reforms?

Recent reforms have boosted investor sentiment for India’s telecom sector. These reforms will ensure that India remains a vibrant and competitive telecommunications market that contributes directly to national income and job creation. Internationally, this has sent a signal that India continues to be a business-friendly destination.

Can you share your thoughts on the next wave of telecommunications reforms the department is currently working on?

Licensing reforms aimed at making it easier to do business, legislative reforms, facilitating the introduction of satellite services, spectrum reforms and reducing litigation are underway.

India is one of the most profitable telecom markets, but due to low average revenue per user (ARPU), telecom operators find it difficult to invest more in networks. Your views?

When it comes to average revenue per user (ARPU) for the industry, we are already seeing a trend reversal and I have a feeling the industry is maturing and this trend is going to continue…little by little, confidence come back. I expect telecom companies to launch the next round of capex soon to meet the growing aspirations of the country, and 5G rollout being the immediate need. The government is reducing procedural delays and moving towards self-certification and self-registration.

When are the 5G auctions scheduled for?

The 5G spectrum auction is expected to take place in mid-2022 after receiving recommendations from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai).

Wavenumber and pricing remain critical issues, with continued industry demand for cost rationalization. What is the government’s thinking on these issues?

The government is aware of the need to make spectrum available for 5G services as soon as possible. Recommendations from Trai were sought on various aspects of the 5G auction, including the reserve price. The government will consider Trai’s recommendations on auctions and all other aspects and then make a decision.

What’s the update on the new satellite communications policy? There is increased interest in space segment broadband in India.

A satcom policy is being prepared by the Department of Space (DoS). The DoT and DoS are keen to create an enabling environment for investments in the space sector.

Space technology is helping to make governance proactive and transparent at all levels, from geo-tracking housing units of the poor, to roads and other infrastructure projects, to tracking development work through imagery satellite, faster claims settlement under the crop insurance scheme, helping millions of fishers through the NAVIC system, or disaster management planning.

The country has also established India’s National Space Promotion and Authorization Center (IN-SPACe) to facilitate private sector participation. IN-SPACE will act as an independent one-stop-shop for all matters related to the space sector. This will give more momentum to private sector actors and their projects.

National security is one of the critical areas of satellite communication services (satcom). The Department of Telecommunications currently appears to have no mechanism to monitor the payloads of foreign satellites that may be offering service in India. Your views?

Satellite orbits are allocated by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) on a first-come, first-served basis, covering all regions of the world, including India. Thus, any country that has acquired orbital slots can place satellites covering India. However, the use of foreign satellites in India is controlled by the restriction of landing rights. These landing rights are granted by India. Additionally, as required, we monitor foreign satellites that radiate over India without permission. The DoT performs space segment radio frequency (RF) level monitoring…

Research and development (R&D) is an important aspect to propel indigenous manufacturing. What will India do to keep up with the next generation of communication technologies?

We intend to boost R&D in telecommunications. We gave experimental licenses to telecommunications service providers for 5G experiments and to industry to test their products. The government has also set up a 5G testbed at IIT-Madras, which is in the final stages of rolling out a 5G core and a 5G Radio Access Network (RAN). Startups and Medium, Small and Micro Enterprises (MSMEs) working in the field of telecommunications connectivity will be offered the opportunity to test their 5G subsystems in the 5G testbed. The research wing of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), the C-DoT (Center for the Development of Telematics) is in the final stages of rolling out the 4G core in partnership with industry. C-DoT is also expected to launch the 5G NSA core (non-standalone) by August 2022 and the 5G SA core (standalone) by mid-2023.

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