- Currently, India is the world’s second-largest telecommunications market with a subscriber base of 1.16 billion and has registered strong growth in the last decade
- The liberal and reformist policies of the Government of India have been instrumental, along with strong consumer demand in the rapid growth in the Indian telecom sector
- India’s digital economy generates approximately $200 billion annually from information technology (IT) and business process management (IT-BPM), IT-enabled services (ITeS), E-Commerce, electronics manufacturing, digital payments, and digital communication services
- India aims to reach a $1 trillion digital economy and a $5 trillion GDP by 2025
- Currently, the Information and Communication technology sector is the key driver of economy, and contributes over 13% to India’s GDP
- The deregulation of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) norms have made the sector one of the fastest growing and the top five employment opportunity generator in the country
- Over the next five years, rise in mobile-phone penetration and decline in data costs, will add 500 million new internet users in India, creating opportunities for new businesses.
- According to a Zenith Media survey, India is expected to become the fastest-growing telecom advertisement market, with an annual growth rate of 11% between 2020 and 2023
Issues/Challenges related to communication Infrastructure in India
- Limited Spectrum Availability: Available spectrum is less than 40% as compared to European nations and 50% as compared to China
- Declining Average Revenue Per User (ARPU): ARPU decline now is sharp along with falling profits and in some cases serious losses, is prompting the Indian telecom industry to look at consolidation as the only way to boost revenues’
- Other issues include:
- The telecom industry is reeling under a debt of over ₹4 lakh crore and has been seeking a relief package from the government
- Lack of Telecom Infrastructure in Semi-rural and Rural areas: Service providers have to incur huge initial fixed cost to enter semi-rural and rural areas. Key reasons behind these costs are lack of basic infrastructure like power and roads, resulting in delays in rolling out the infrastructure.
- Lack of trained personnel to operate and maintain the cellular infrastructure is another challenge
Measures taken by Government to boost Communication Infrastructure in India
- FDI cap in the telecom sector has been increased to 100% from 74%
- FDI of up to 100% is permitted for infrastructure providers offering dark fibre, electronic mail and voice mail
- In 2020, the government approved the Production Incentive Scheme (PLI) for Large- scale Electronics Manufacturing.
- The scheme proposes production-linked incentive to boost domestic manufacturing and attract large investments in mobile phone manufacturing and specified electronic components including Assembly, Testing, Marking and Packaging (ATMP) units
- In 2020, the Union Cabinet, approved the provision of submarine optical fibre cable connectivity between Mainland (Kochi) and Lakshadweep Islands (KLI Project)
- In 2021, India and Japan signed an MoU to enhance cooperation in the field of Information and Communications Technologies
- Department of Telecommunication launched ‘Tarang Sanchar’ – a web portal sharing information on mobile towers and EMF Emission Compliances
- The government has approved a project at a cost of 20,000 crore for creating a National Optical Fiber Network (NOFN) which will provide broadband connectivity to 2.5 lakh gram panchayats for various applications like ehealth, e-education, and e-governance.
- The project is being funded under the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF).
- Also, A new National Digital Communications Policy – 2018 (NDCP-2018) was unveiled in 2018 to cater to the modern needs of the digital communications sector of India.
- The policy aims to attract USD 100 billion worth of investments and generate 4 million jobs in the sector by 2022
- As per the National Digital Communication Plan, the Central government has set a target of setting up millions of Wi-Fi hotspots by 2022 and the PM-WANI scheme will facilitate this