- Indian telecom sector is currently debt-laden with operators struggling to gain profits
- 5G rollout in India is expected to happen in early 2020
Trai Chairman R S Sharma on Thursday exuded confidence that the new government will work with “renewed vigour” to accelerate reforms in the telecom sector with a sharp focus on 5G roll-out and the implementation of the new telecom policy. Sharma said it is for the government to take a call on its priorities for the sector but added that he sees an accelerated implementation of various provisions of the National Digital Communications Policy (NDCP).
“It is for the government to take a call on the priorities. But, my understanding is that on NDCP which was announced last year…there will be the accelerated implementation of provisions,” Sharma told PTI.
Asked if the continuity of the Narendra Modi-led government would ensure that pending issues in the sector are taken up expeditiously, Sharma said, “I think the telecom department has been addressing the issues earlier also, and I am sure there will be new renewed vigour.”
“I am sure it will accelerate…the reforms in the telecom sector will accelerate further,” he said.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has been in favour of a review of licence fees, spectrum usage charges and the universal service obligation fund levy to enhance the overall ease of doing business.
On whether some of the long-pending suggestions could be taken up now, Sharma said Trai has already given a number of recommendations to the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) with a view to rationalise the levies in the telecom sector.
“I am sure the government will consider them,” he said. Currently, telecom service providers are required to pay a one-time non-refundable entry fee prior to the signing of the licence agreement. Additionally, operators are also under an obligation to pay an annual licence fee which is a percentage of the adjusted gross revenue (AGR); under the unified licence agreement, the licence fee currently is 8 per cent of the AGR.
The telecom service providers also pay spectrum-related charges, including payment for allotment and use of spectrum.