Telecommunications 2018 Review

  • Six-fold increase in Government spending on telecommunications infrastructure and services in the country – from Rs. 9,900 crores between 2009-14, to Rs. 60,000 crores (actual + planned) between 2014-19
  • Tariff reductions benefiting consumers across the country:
    • Average voice tariff declined by 67% – from an average per minute tariff of 51 paise in June 2014 to 11 paise in June 2018
    • Average data tariff declined by 96% – from Rs. 269 per GB in 2014, to Rs. 12 per GB in June 2018
  • Restoring the trust between Government and Citizens through a smooth and transparent auction of spectrum in 2015 and 2016 – more than 1382 MHz sold, realising an upfront payment of approximately Rs. 65,000 crores
  • For the spectrum auction of October, 2016, DoT received an Excellence Award from CVC in November 2017, for “Transparency in e-auction of spectrum in 2016”
  • Telecom service providers now have sufficient spectrum available to offer their sevices; the regime of spectrum shortage is a thing of the past
  • Under the BharatNet project, which is expected to trigger the era of Broadband in rural India, nearly 50% of the total 2.5 Lakh Gram Panchayats (GPs) in the country have been connected through high-speed OFC network by October 2018, as compared to 59 GPs in June 2014; plan to complete the remaining GPs by March 2019
  • Network for Spectrum (NFS) project for Defence – project approved in July 2012; no cable laid until May 2014; 51,000 km of Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) laid in the last 4 years
  • Under BharatNet and NFS projects, OFC laid at a peak rate of 800 km per day, with an average of more than 200 km per day – a record of sorts
  • As a result of its’ role in the BharatNet project, ITI Ltd. was able to report a net profit of Rs. 102 crores (without grants) for the year 2017-18
  • Proactive engagement, planning, and investment to leverage new technologies for the welfare of citizens – High-Level Forum (HLF) for 5G India set up which submitted its report in August 2018; 5G test beds established through Industry-Academia partnership and government support; 5G field trials to be conducted over the next 12 months

  • Highlights in Figures
    • Increase in overall tele-density in the country – from 75% in June 2014 to 93% in March 2018, adding 305 million new subscribers
    • Mobile Internet subscriptions more than doubled – from 233 Million in March 2014 to 491 Million in June 2018
    • Over 107% increase in internet coverage – from 251 million users in June 2014 to 512 million in June 2018
    • Number of mobile Base Transceiver Stations (BTS)more than doubled – from 7.9 lakh in May 2014 to more than20 lakh in May 2018
    • Country-wide OFCcoverage doubled – from 7 lakh km in May 2014 to 14 lakh km in May 2018
    • Average mobile data usage per subscriber grew 51 times – from 62 MB per month to 3.2 GB per month
    • Cheapest data tariff globally – from Rs. 300 per GB in 2014 to Rs. 12 per GB in June 2018, tariff reduction of 96%
    • Highest mobile data consumption globally at 3.4 Billion GB per month
    • Seven times growth in broadband access – from 61 million subscribers in March 2014, to 447 million subscribers in June 2018
    • Digital payment transactions through mobile grew four times– from 168 million in November 2016 to 600 million now
    • Five times jump in FDI inflows in Telecom Sector – from USD 1.3 billion in  2015-16, to USD 6.2 billion in 2017-18
    • Connecting the Unconnectedareas in the country:
      • Left-Wing Extremism Affected Areas – 2335 mobile towers installed in Phase I, at a total outlay of Rs. 4,781 crores; 4072 towers approved for installation in Phase II, with a total outlay of Rs. 7,330 crores
      • Biggest ever Telecom Spend in the North-East Region –Ongoing projects with a total outlay of more than Rs. 10,800 crores, connecting border areas, highways, and unconnected villages
      • Submarine cable connectivity to Andaman and Nicobar Islands, in addition to strengthening connectivity within the islands and in Lakshadweep – at an outlay of Rs. 2,250 crores
      • Extensive expansion of the Wi-Fi eco-system in rural areas,with an outlay of Rs. 10,000 crores – 25,000 hot-spots by BSNL in rural exchanges, 7,000 hot-spots (e-Choupals) by Common Service Centres (CSCs); Additional 1 million Hotspots planned by March 2019
    • Key reforms to facilitate the operation of a Robust, Competitive, and Sustainable Telecom Sector:
      • Spectrum sharing and trading allowed – to boost competition
      • Spectrum harmonisation – resulting in freeing up spectrum for auction
      • Sharing of passive (e.g., fibre, towers) and active (e.g., BTS) infrastructure
      • Deferred Payment Liabilities – to reduce financial stress in the sector
      • Easing of Right of Way (RoW) Rules and Charges – Ease of Doing Business
      • Full mobile number portability
      • Virtual Network Operators (VNO) license introduced – for effective infrastructure utilisation
      • Input credit for VNO licensees allowed to ease tax burden
    • The National Digital Communications Policy (NDCP) 2018 – summarises our Aspirations and Determination:
      • Missions – NDCP 2018
        • Connect India – Universal broadband coverage at 50 Mbps
        • Propel India – Attracting investments worth USD 100 Billion
        • Secure India – A strong, flexible, and robust communications infrastructure and data protection regime
      • Objectives – NDCP 2018
        • Providing Broadband to all by 2022
        • Adding 4 million jobs in the sector
        • Digital Communications sector to grow to 8% of India’s GDP by 2022 (present 6%)
        • To bring India tothe top 50 rank(from present 134) in the ICT Development Index of the International Telecom Union
        • Net positive international trade in the sector – through increased local manufacturing and exports, and lower imports
        • Ensuring Digital Sovereignty of the country