More than 125 Public Data Office Aggregators (PDOAs) and 63 app providers have been registered by the telecom department (DoT) during the year till November 23, under the PM-WANI scheme, with more than 50,000 access points deployed, the department of telecommunications said Monday.
“Indigenous 5G test bed project funded by DoT has reached its final stages; Likely to be completed by 31st December 2021,” the department said in its year-end review.
The department has also constituted 6G Technology Innovation Group (TIG) to prepare India’s manufacturing and services ecosystem to capitalise on 6G opportunity, it added.
The Centre had approved the proposal to proliferate broadband through public WiFi Networks under the framework of Prime Minister’s WiFi Access Network Interface (PM-WANI).
“It is expected that with public Wi-Fi broadband, the user experience and quality of service for broadband will be improved significantly. This service will be especially useful in rural areas where public WiFi hotspots are also being created under BharatNet. Proliferation of public WiFi hotspots will lead to increased employment for small and micro entrepreneurs, and provide them with an additional source of income,” the department said.
Under BharatNet, more than 17,000 gram panchayats have been made service ready in 2021, while nearly 1.8 lakh gram panchayats have been connected by laying 5,52,514 km optical fibre cable (OFC) till 1 November 2021.
Between 2014 and 2021, the rural tele-density has jumped to 59% as of September from 44%, while broadband connections have risen from 6.1 crore to 79 crore as of June. Internet connections have risen from 25.15 crore to 83.37 crore as of June, average revenue realisation per subscriber per GB wireless data has reduced to ₹9.8 in June compared with ₹268.97 in December 2014, which has lead to a huge spike–by 22605%–in average monthly data consumption per wireless data subscriber which went up to 14 GB in June from 61.66 MB in 2014.
Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in telecom sector has risen by 150% in the same period, from ₹62,386 crore in 2014 to ₹1,55,353 crore.
The government has approved massive set of reforms for the sector including opening up of foreign direct investment to 100% under the automatic route, besides making changes to rules to ease the liquidity issues being faced by the beleaguered sector.
Challenges like liquidity, rationalisation of levies, adjusted gross revenue (AGR), and spectrum pricing were also resolved, with the government excluding non-telecom revenue on prospective basis from the definition of AGR. Bank guarantees against license fee and other similar levies were lowered by 80% and no requirements for multiple bank guarantees in different Licensed Service Areas (LSAs) regions in the country was decided.
Effective 1 October 2021, delayed payments of license fee and spectrum usage charge will attract interest rate of SBI’s MCLR plus 2% instead of MCLR plus 4%; interest compounded annually instead of monthly; penalty and interest on penalty removed, the department said.
The government has also fixed the timeline for future auctions which will be held at the end of every financial year, and the tenure of spectrum has been increased from 20 to 30 years has been fixed without any spectrum usage charge.
“Moratorium/Deferment of up to four years in annual payments of dues arising out of the AGR judgement, with however, by protecting the Net Present Value (NPV) of the due amounts being protected,” the department said. Livemint