The government on Wednesday said that despite strength in the telecom sector over the past decade, there is substantial competition as there are at least four telecom service providers in each of the country’s 22 licensed service areas.
In a written reply to a question in Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Communications Devusinh Chouhan said, “There has been a consolidation in the telecom sector since 2012. Even after consolidation, there is substantial competition in the sector at least as many as four. Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) including Public Sector Undertakings (BSNL and MTNL) are present in each Licensed Service Area (LSA). The country is divided into 22 LSAs.
Consolidation in the telecommunications sector has resulted in optimum utilization of resources including radio spectrum. The same is evident from the substantial increase in the number of telecom towers, network coverage and subscriber base, the minister said.
At present, the mobile network in India is serving more than 115 crore customers (as on 31st December 2021). About 98 percent of the population is covered by 4G network. In addition, there has been a significant reduction in tariffs for voice and data since 2016 which also indicates the presence of substantial competition in the telecom sector, the minister said.
The Union Cabinet, in its meeting held on September 15, 2021, approved rationalization of the definition of Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR), rationalization of interest rates and removal of penalty, rationalization of bank guarantee requirements and allowing 100 per cent FDI under the automatic route. The proposal to give was approved. in the telecommunications sector.
These reforms are expected to promote healthy competition, increase liquidity, encourage investment and reduce regulatory burden on telecom service providers, Mr. Chouhan said.