TRAI annual report 2013-14 : Telecom Sector, TRAI rooting for financial inclusion of rural India

docomo-vs-relianceThe Telecom Sector witnessed substantial growth in the number of subscribers during the year 2013-14. At the end of the financial year, the subscriber base was 933.00 million, out of which 904.51 million were wireless subscribers. During the year, wireless subscriber base recorded an increase of 36.71 million while the overall teledensity increased from 73.32 to 75.23.

The year also saw an increase in rural teledensity from 41.02 to 43.96 while the urban teledensity decreased to 145.78 from 146.96. As per the data reported by the service providers, by the end of March, 2014 about 117.01 million mobile subscribers have submitted their requests to different service providers for porting their mobile number. The Internet subscriber base in the country as on 31st March 2014 stood at 251.59 million as compared to 164.81 million as on 31st March 2013.

The minimum download speed for the broadband services was increased from 256 kbps to 512 kbps and the wireless data services were also included in the revised definition of Broadband service notified by the Government. The total broadband subscriber base of the country as on 31st March 2014 (as per the revised definition) is 60.87 million as per information available with TRAI, vis-a-vis 15.05 million as on 31st March 2013 (as per pre-revised definition).

In accordance with the provisions contained in the National Telecom Policy 2012 regarding “One Nation – Full Mobile Number Portability” (FMNP), TRAI after going through the consultation process and examination of various issues involved, forwarded its recommendation on FMNP across license service areas, on 25th Sept. 2013.  In order to ensure strict compliance to the MNP regulations by Access Providers, the Authority amended the MNP regulations by incorporating provisions for levy of financial disincentives where contravention is established in rejection of porting requests and also in the timelines specified in the regulations.

DoT had requested TRAI to deliberate on the issue of ‘Augmentation/revamping of telecom services in North Eastern states (NER) including the state of Sikkim – study regarding gap and investment required for formulation of a telecom plan’. After carrying out detailed consultations with various stakeholders, TRAI forwarded its recommendations on “Improving Telecom Services in the North Eastern States: an investment plan” on 26th Sept. 2013. The Authority recommended for an approximate amount of Rs.2918 crores as an overall investment requirement for covering the telecom infrastructure gap in the NER states. The Authority recommended that the government should mandate all agencies including State Government, WPC, Highway Authorities, PSUs to cooperate to make the success of investment plans for providing universal and state of the art facilities in the NER

The mobile phone is rapidly emerging as a useful instrument for customers to conduct financial transactions. TRAI has assumed a facilitative role in the endeavour to leverage the mobile phone for financial inclusion of India’s vast population. TRAI has, over the past year, arranged for banks and TSPs to have detailed consultations for working together on this important national project. Recognising the need for regulatory intervention to set the process in motion, the Mobile Banking (Quality of Service) Regulation has been amended to direct all TSPs to facilitate Integrated Voice Response (IVR), Short Message Service (SMS) and Unstructured Supplementary Services Data (USSD) based connectivity to banks and their authorised agents for mobile banking services.

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