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Telecom has space for more players

India’s telecom market has the potential to attract new players since the government has undertaken significant reforms to improve the financial health of the sector, communications minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said.

Speaking at the Mint Mobility Conclave 2022, Vaishnaw said India’s billion-plus population offers a huge captive market, while the per month data consumption of 15 GB was higher than the global average of 11 GB. The minister said this indicates a strong appetite for tech adoption and usage.

“So, there is a scope for new innovation, business models, tech and new players,” he said.

The Indian telecom industry has shrunk from more than a dozen players about a decade ago to three—Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea—besides public sector units BSNL and MTNL. Adani Data Networks, an arm of the Adani Enterprises conglomerate, is participating in the ongoing 5G spectrum auctions, even though it is expected to take airwaves only for captive 5G networks and enterprise use.

With the auctions moving into the fourth day, the minister expected higher proceeds from the previous day’s ₹1.49 trillion. “We have to have more than this,” he said, but added that the auctions showed the industry had come out of the financial pains that it was going through.

“From a very stressed-out industry, it has now become a sunrise industry,” he said. He added that taking telecom services to far-flung areas would be possible only when the industry was strong, healthy, willing to invest more and bring in new technologies.

He also said the Centre was working on redesigning the sector’s regulatory structure to make it the best in the world.

Vaishnaw said the law must keep pace with the technology development, while seeking views from all stakeholders on the proposed new legal framework for the telecom sector. The department of telecom floated a consultation paper in this respect last week. Livemint

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