‘Enforce laws to prevent private entities from collecting more data than required’

S Ronendra Singh New Delhi | Updated on August 07, 2020 Published on August 07, 2020

RS Sharma (right), Chairman, Chairman, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, with Thomas K Thomas, Senior Associate Editor, BusinessLine, at a Knowledge Series Webinar on Friday.

Need to invest in fixed-line broadband infrastructure

Private entities are collecting more data than required and laws should be put in place to stop such players from taking data other than what’s required for the basic function of the application, according to RS Sharma, Chairman, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India.

“I am agreeing with the fact that private entities are collecting more data in general than what is required to conduct their functions. Laws should be put in place to stop them from taking more data than required,” Sharma said at a BusinessLine Knowledge Series Webinar on “Are regulations keeping pace with the developments in digital ecosystem?” The webinar, presented by Federal Bank, was moderated by Thomas K Thomas, Senior Associate Editor, The Hindu BusinessLine.

3+1 players

Speaking on the issue of the concerns around duopoly in the telecom market, Sharma said that Trai is more worried about the consumers than the players — whether there is monopoly or duopoly or more companies.

“TRAI is there and it has been there for consumer protection and certainly ensures that consumers are not short-changed. There are views, some say 10 players are good and some say four players are good in a market...worldwide if you see there are actually three plus one players — three private players and one government,” Sharma said.

“I am not the one who is going to pronounce a judgment on that issue nor I am qualified to do that. But I think we can be rest assured that the regulator will come in as and when it seems that there is consumer exploitation,” he added. On being asked about the stress of some of the players like Bharti Airtel and Vodafone India, he said the ‘telecom space is managed by very smart businessmen’ and he is not anybody to make a forecast on them.

‘Telecom, the lifeline’

“I think what is important is that the telecom sector is not the one which is going to die or become less important. In fact, on the contrary, I feel especially after this pandemic, the telecom sector is the only sector which has become the lifeline of a country. Imagine we could not have survived in weeks’ lockdown if it had been 20 years back," he further said.

Therefore, the sector needs investments on fixed broadband infrastructure too. “Today, the world actually consumes 46 per cent of data through fixed infrastructure. India consumes merely 7 per cent on fixed line and 93 per cent of our data comes from wireless. So essentially we are a wireless nation...we can't actually progress if we remain that way,” Sharma said.

He said telecom infrastructure is becoming more and more critical and central to the development of all other sectors. “Therefore, telecom as a sector has an extremely bright future,” he added.

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Published on August 07, 2020
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