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Financially stressed telecom industry needs govt support in 2021

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Like any other sector, the telecom industry was also impacted by the pandemic with a sharp fall in the number of subscribers in March and April. However, business and individuals adopted digital ways, the telecom industry emerged as a saviour.

Many telecom players have benefitted from a surge in the traffic of data and voice, due to which the telecom sector is performing well compared to other infrastructure sub-sectors. In the first quarter of this fiscal year through June, customer spending on voice and data services increased 16.6% year-on-year, amounting to Rs. 35,642 crore (US$ 4.80 billion).

The growth of data services was primarily triggered by the use of OTT platforms for voice communications, chat, online meetings, webinars, entertainment and more.

As an outlook for 2021, the launch is expected in the later part of the year. The technology is poised to open up a plethora of possibilities in terms of business models, better education, healthcare, smart cities, smart manufacturing, intelligent logistics, and overall, enhanced lifestyles for one and all.

With the focus on , revenue from the telecom equipment sector is expected to grow to $26.38 billion by 2020. The number of internet subscribers in the country is expected to double by 2021 to 829 million and overall IP traffic is expected to grow four-fold at a CAGR of 30% by 2021.

However, industry continues to be financially stressed and we seek the support of the government in enabling the industry to truly play its role as an enabler of horizontal growth and a boost to the nation's economy.

Some of the top challenges faced by our member TSPs today are those related to Liquidity, Rationalization of the regulatory levies, AGR issues, spectrum pricing, Right of Way (RoW) rules, and cell tower radiation. has been pressing the government and TRAI on these.

The author is Director General, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI). Views are personal.

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Lt. Gen. Dr. SP Kochhar
Lt. Gen. Dr. SP Kochhar
Lt. Gen. Dr. SP Kochhar is Director General of Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI). He retired as ‘Signal Officer in Chief’, the head of the ICT wing of the Indian Army, where he was responsible for planning, executing and operating all Telecom and IT networks of the Army.
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