Telecom Secretary J S Deepak said that foreign direct investment (FDI) in the telecom sector has jumped to $10 billion during the first eight months of 2016-17, from $1.3 billion in 2015-16, driven by policy reforms brought by the Indian government.
FDI in telecom sector stood at $1.3 billion in 2013-14, which increased to $2.9 billion in 2014-15, and $1.3 billion in 2015-16. “FDI has jumped to USD 10 billion, a 6-7 fold increase, in the first eight months of 2016-17,” he said, adding that these statistics were “resounding acknowledgement” of reforms undertaken in the telecom sector.
The government has undertaken various reforms such as spectrum harmonisation, spectrum trading and sharing, transparent allocation of airwaves through auctions, Right of Way rules and eKYC guidelines.
“We have government has tried to facilitate the telecom industry by a host of spectrum management reforms, the right of way rules which makes it easier to set up telecom infrastructure by making decisions on applications transparent and time bound, as well as eKYC for acquisition of customers,” he said.
The official said that there is a need to both popularize and simplify USSD (unstructured supplementary service data), considering about 97 percent of population is covered by the 2G telecom network provided mostly by private telecom operators.
“We need to work on a push USSD rather than a pull USSD, merchants should be able to push in a message to feature phone users where-in you just have to ok it for a transaction and it goes back and completes the transaction,” he said.
Deepak was speaking at an event on e-Governance and Digital India organised by Assocham. “The entire government is committed to fundamental reforms like GST and decision of demonetization of currency and many others for ease of doing business,” he said.
The next stage of reforms will focus on areas of partnership with industry on implementation of initiatives.