Telecom minister Manoj Sinha said that the telecom sector is likely to create 4 lakh new jobs over a period of 5 years and contribute significantly to the country's GDP. Sinha's comments come at a time when the industry is going through severe competition and an active consolidation phase, leading to lesser number of players in the market. According to a report by CIEL HR Services, the telecom sector has lost around 40,000 jobs since last year, and the trend is likely to continue for the next six-nine months and may see the job cuts reaching 80,000-90,000.
The minister, however, said that the Union Budget for 2018-19 would enhance telecom infrastructure in the country, adding that the government has allocated Rs 10,000 crore for the same. The outlay will cover laying of 4 lakh kilometres of optical fiber cable (OFC) network to connect 1.5 lakh gram panchayats by March 2019, scaling up wifi networks and connectivity in north-eastern states and laying undersea cable for connecting Andaman and Nicobar Islands (ANI) and Lakshadweep Islands etc.
Sinha on Thursday informed media that the number of BTS (base transceiver station) has almost doubled to 16.8 lakhs from 7.9 lakh in 2014, while the fiber network increased from 7 lakh kilometres to 14 lakh.
"Under Bharat Net phase 2 another 4 lakh kilometres of OFC will be laid,” Sinha said. The government has already completed the task of connecting 1 lakh gram panchayats with high-speed optic fibre network under Phase 1 of Bharat Net program.
The government has completed phase 1 of Bharat Net project under which it is providing high-speed broadband connectivity to 1 lakh gram panchayats. Under phase 2, which is to be completed by March 2019, the government aims to connect remaining 1.5 lakh GPs with OFC based broadband network.
According to him, the telecom department is planning to deploy around 4,000 mobile towers in naxal affected area and 6,000 towers in north-east to connect around 8,500 villages that are deprived of telecom connectivity. In North Eastern states, 3,000 kilometres of OFC will be laid which will increase the bandwidth five times.