[Answered] What are the changes required in wireless regulations?

Introduction: Contextual introduction.
Body: Explain some changes required in wireless regulations.
Conclusion: Write a way forward.

India liberalized the telecom sector in 1981. It had initially adopted first-cum first licence policy during the initial days of mobile telephony. However, the 2G scam led to the replacement of the previous policy with the open auction of spectrum. India has billion-plus mobile subscribers and 800 million internet users and hosts the second-largest telecommunications network in the world.

Changes required in wireless regulations:

  • Given the high costs of installing fibre, policies for wireless middle- and last-mile connectivity are urgently required.
  • The expenditure on roads and railways is twice the amount on communications.
  • 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, due to 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.
  • The communication sector in India lacks proper policy regulations. E.g. Vodafone was imposed with retrospective taxesin 2007. However, it was later set aside by the Supreme Court.
  • Vodafone and other operators fought licence fees claimedon non-telecom revenues included in aggregate gross revenues (AGR) since 2003 while the interest on dues kept on rising.
  • There is a need to enable 6GHz for Wi-Fi, allow speeds of up to 10 Gbps, and support for local product developmentand production instead of relying on imports.

The vision of “Digital India” can never be realised if affordable broadband connectivity remains only within the reach of a few.

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