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NTP’s $100 billion investment estimate conservative, says COAI

The government’s plan to attract USD 100 billion (about Rs 6.5 lakh crore) investment in the telecom sector by 2022 is conservative, industry body COAI has said, reported Moneycontrol citing source.

Just two telecom operators, Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio, have committed to invest Rs 74,000 crore this year alone, which is more than 10 percent of the total government estimate, COAI Director General Rajan S Mathews said to PTI.

“Telecom operators are investing USD 10 billion. Half of investment is expected to come from just these two players,” he told PTI in an interview.

The government draft of the new telecom policy (NTP) — ‘National Digital Communications Policy 2018’ — aims to create 40 lakh new jobs by 2022, attract USD 100 billion investment in the sector and ensure broadband coverage at 50 mbps for every citizen.

It also proposes to address the woes of debt-ridden telecom sector by reviewing licence fees, spectrum usage charges, universal service obligation fund levy — all of which add to cost of telecom services.

The policy draft proposes adopting “Optimal Pricing of Spectrum” to ensure sustainable and affordable access to digital communications. It also proposes use of mid-band spectrum, particularly the 3 GHz to 24 GHz range, for next-generation networks.

Besides, it has outlined a roadmap for transmitting signals between mobile towers in E-band (71-76/81-86 GHz) and V-band (57-64 MHz) spectrum, in line with international best practices.

Mathews said the government should start allocating spectrum in E and V bands without auction to expedite the rollout of telecom infrastructure to meet the proposed objectives such as broadband for all and increasing the share of the telecom sector in GDP to 8 percent from 6 percent at present.