Unmet needs in wireless regulations

Source: The post is based on an article Unmet needs in wireless regulations” published in Business Standard on 14th February 2023.

Syllabus: GS 3 – Economy

Relevance: concerns associated with telecom sectors in India

News: The communication sector in India is suffering from various hurdles and there is a need to resolve these.

What are the problems with the communication sector in India?

Lack of expenditure: The expenditure on roads and railways is twice the amount on communications.

Lack of proper regulatory policy: The communication sector in India lacks proper policy regulations as seen in the case of Vodafone.

Vodafone was imposed with retrospective taxes in 2007. However, it was later set aside by the Supreme Court.

Vodafone and other operators fought licence fees claimed on non-telecom revenues included in aggregate gross revenues (AGR) since 2003 while the interest on dues kept on rising.

HowevUnmet needs in wireless regulationser, in 2021 a four-year temporary relief package was announced on debt repayments while the interest kept on rising on the dues.

Due to these improper solutions Vodafone and its operators kept on suffering. However, on 3rd February, the government decided to convert Vodafone’s dues into government-held equity. 

These all show the irresponsible behaviour of the government and lack of proper policy measures which made Vodafone to suffer for a decade.

Wireless policies and the use of optical fibres: As per ICRA, full-scale 5G deployments across India would require expenditure of about Rs 3 trillion because nearly two-thirds of the towers lack fibre connectivity.

However, looking at the high debt of telecoms and high cost of fibres, it is unexpected that telecommunication companies would invest heavily.

Therefore, there is an urgent need for the policy makers to come up with wireless policies based on successful models in other countries.

Other requirements: There is a need to enable 6GHz for Wi-Fi, allow speeds of up to 10 Gbps, and support for local product development and production instead of relying on imports.

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