The Minister of Communications Shri Manoj Sinha today informed the Lok Sabha said that Indian telecom operators are required to expand their network significantly to ensure adequate coverage at all the locations to support 4G, 5G and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies. Indian telecom operators have installed total 4,48,273 mobile towers in the country as on May 31, 2017, he said.
Sinha also said that the declining sales revenue of the telcos would have an adverse impact on government revenue collection in the form of spectrum usage charges and licence fee in the current financial year. “Telecom Industry including state-owned telecom PSUs and major banks have apprised the government about the financial stress in the telecom industry. The telecom sector witnessed a sharp decline in revenues in the second half of the financial year 2016-17,” he said in a written reply.
The Minister said that the government collected licence fee of Rs 3,975.66 crore at the end of the April-June quarter of the financial year 2016-17, Rs 3,584.04 in the July-September quarter, Rs 3,452.13 crore in October-December and Rs 2,663.29 crore in the January-March quarter. He added that the revenue decline in the second half of the financial year 2016-17 was mainly concentrated in the last quarter of the year.
Sinha added that the declining tariff in the sector led to an adverse impact on revenue. “If this trend continues, the License Fee and the Spectrum Usage Charges are likely to be impacted adversely during the current financial year,” he further added.
On the issue of EMF radiation from the mobile towers, he said that the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), in the year 2008, adopted the International Commission on Non Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) guidelines that are recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) for basic restriction and limiting reference levels of electromagnetic radiation from mobile towers. Based on the recommendations of an Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC), with effect from 01.09.2012, these limits have been made ten times more stringent than the limits prescribed by ICNIRP and recommended by WHO.
The Minister said that the present limit/level of Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) for Mobile Handsets in India is also one of the most stringent in the world and is 1.6 Watt per Kg averaged over a mass of one-gram human tissue, at par with USA, Canada and Australia, as against the global standards prescribed by ICNIRP of 2 W/kg averaged over a mass of 10 gm tissue and adopted by China, Singapore, Ghana, Brazil, Japan, Nigeria, Republic of Korea etc.