India Mobile Congress: Industry seeks better use of funds, simpler regulations

Our Bureau | | | Updated on: Dec 08, 2021
Sunil Bharti Mittal

Sunil Bharti Mittal

Mukesh Ambani

Mukesh Ambani

Government invites suggestions from industry to usher in more reforms

The first day of the India Mobile Congress (IMC) 2021 saw industrialists like Mukesh Ambani and Sunil Bharti Mittal making a case for the government to better utilise the funds and put in place better regulatory systems to deepen the digital revolution in the country. Speaking at the inaugural session, Ambani suggested that the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) be used to subsidise smartphones for select groups and added that India should make it a national priority for rollout of 5G technology standard for broadband cellular networks.

As much as 5 per cent of the licence fee paid by telecom operators goes to the USOF, which was set up in April 2002 for achieving universal service objectives by providing access to telephone services in rural and remote areas and creation of infrastructure for mobile services and broadband.

The Reliance Industries Chairman chalked out five points for the growth of the telecom sector including migration from 2G to 4G to 5G, and emphasised that India should move towards greater digital inclusion, and not exclusion.

“To keep millions of Indians at the bottom of the socio-economic pyramid confined to 2G is to deprive them of the benefits of the digital revolution...If all the players in the industry work together, we can rapidly achieve a nationwide footprint of fiber, just as we reached mobile telephone to every corner of the country in the last decade,” he said.

‘Simple regulatory regime’

On regulatory regimes, Bharti Enterprises’ Chairman, Sunil Mittal, said “We must have a regime, which is simple in its regulatory touch and does not create more litigations going forward. This will release the energy of the industry in the gainful and rightful way. And, this will be one appeal to the government as we go forward,” he said.

He said, duties in the telecom sector also still remain large. “Spectrum remains expensive. So, some of these areas also I would appeal to the government to continuously look at for the benefit of our digital dream.”

And, like Ambani, Mittal also urged his counterparts to now start to focus on building the industry for the next wave of connectivity like 5G and beyond, where India should be taking a lead in developing its own standards, possibly for 6G and beyond technologies.

Kumar Mangalam Birla, Chairman, Aditya Birla Group said, a robust industry is necessary to invest and accelerate the achievement of the Digital India vision and mobile industry will play a “vital” role in India’s vision to be a $5-trillion economy by 2025, of which $1 trillion will be the contribution from the digital economy.

“Over the past few months, the government has made some critical policy interventions in this direction. Further steps in ease of doing business and support from the banking sector will significantly enhance the sector strength and ensure that India remains at the cutting edge of global technology trends,” he said.

‘Committed to reforms’

Assuring support from the government, Ashwini Vaishnaw, Telecom Minister sought suggestions from industry stakeholders to usher in more reforms in the sector and place Indian regulatory framework at par with the best in the world.

“We want to benchmark our regulatory framework with the best in the world. We want industry to keep adding value to the people. So I request all of you through this conference, please come up with new suggestions. We are open to more reforms,” he said.

Vaishnaw also called for suggestions around making telecom network secure with trusted products and equipment in the wake of the geopolitical situation. “There are paramount concerns among all nations regarding security of telecom networks. People want telecom devices, telecom equipment, telecom network operating system, everything to be from trusted sources.”

Published on December 09, 2021

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