New Delhi: Rajeev Chandrasekhar, MoS for Electronics and IT, on Wednesday highlighted the progress made in the telecom sector over the past nine years.
Comparing the previous UPA regime, which he termed a “Lost decade,” the minister outlined several areas where transformative changes have been seen.
Chandrasekhar pointed out key areas in which the current government has made progress in the telecom sector, including stopping corruption and crony capitalism, boosting investor confidence, reducing reliance on imports, and enhancing the quality of telecom services.
“The 10 years under UPA in telecom was certainly a lost decade, it was all about scams whether it was the 2G scam or the trunk exchange scam. Even BSNL had become a loss-making liability on the public exchequer by 2014. There was crony capitalism and crony licensing. India has one of the fastest-growing telecom networks in the world. We have auctioned spectrum, issued licenses with absolute transparency and integrity. Every rupee gained from spectrum auctions has gone to the public exchequer and deployed in social spending schemes of the Government,” he said.
Chandrasekhar also emphasised that investors’ attitudes had changed significantly. Previously, foreign investors showed reluctance to engage in the market due to concerns about crony capitalism and corruption. However, the scenario has transformed with improved ease of doing business and effective government reforms.
“There was a flight of capital and flight of foreign investors. A large number of telecom international brand names that invested in India, left because their businesses were destroyed mainly due to corruption or crony capitalism. In India techade, due to ease of doing business and Government’s reforms – there is a stable, growing and positive investor sentiment. We are rapidly investing into the sector, growing the overall market capitalisation and size of this segment in the digital economy,” the minister said.
Further highlighting the change in the reduction in import dependency for telecom equipment and devices, he said, “In the lost decade we were completely dependent on imports, whether they were equipment for the network or for devices. In the lost decade over 85% of all devices were imported and today 100% of the devices are made, tested, assembled in India, exported from India to even countries like North America.”
Talking about his positive outlook on the telecom sector’s expansion, Chandrasekhar stated, “In the lost decade consumers faced a constant decline in the quality of services in telecom. In the India techade, the whole equation has turned. Networks have a higher quality today, operators are incentivised and tasked, investing more base stations and capacities in the wireless network. We are the second fastest rolling 5G network in the world. And over 700 districts in India have already had 5G coverage. Over 500,000 base stations have been rolled out in this cutting-edge technology and we are already having a vision and a roadmap for 6G.”