DoT sets up committees to address telecom service providers' concerns
In a bid to address telecom service providers' concern, the Department of Telecom (DoT) has formed committees to achieve the targets set under the National Digital Communications Policy (NDCP) 2018, an official said.
"We have constituted several committees. We need to enlarge some committees... to bring inter-ministerial participation for views of Department of Finance, Department of Space and Department of IT. Most of the committees have been constituted, and now we will get down to work... the committees will start working immediately," Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan told PTI in an interview.
Sundararrajan was replying to a question on DoT action plan to achieve the NDCP targets and the roadmap for rationalisation of levies and spectrum prices.
Addressing the India Mobile Congress recently, Bharti Airtel chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal had said that the telecom sector remains highly taxed just like the tobacco industry.
"In India, for every Rs 100 that mobile operators earn, nearly Rs 37 goes towards one form of levy or the other... I cannot see how this contradiction can exist...where on one hand we have PM's vision of digitally enabled India ...which requires tremendous amount of investment, on the other hand we keep the spectrum prices and our licence fee very high...and of course the GST is at 18 per cent which almost at the highest tax bracket," Mittal had said.
The IMC was held in October 25-27. Sundararajan said that most of the issues were likely to be addressed in a year, and some work will have to go on till 2022 as per the target date set under NDCP.
"We do accept two things. You need lot more spectrum for 5G to happen. Second, revenue maximisation cannot be the only objective," Sundararajan said, adding that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has proposed up to 46 per cent reduction in spectrum price.
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"If anything more needs to be done, then we will have to look at it after committee gives its recommendations," Sundararajan said.
On Monday, TRAI recommended auction of about 8,644 MHz of telecom frequencies at an estimated total base price of Rs 4.9 lakh crore, which includes radiowaves for 5G services. Companies have showed huge interest for 5G services at the IMC, the telecom secretary said.
"They (telecom companies) need spectrum for the trials. We will make available all global bands for trial. They need simply right of way mechanism. We will set up official mechanism to set up trials. We have also told them we do not want showcasing of what has already been done. We want something new," Sundararajan said.