11 Jun Need strong fixed line infra, wifi hotspots in rural areas for robust connectivity: TRAI chief
NEW DELHI: India needs to strengthen its fixed line infrastructure that currently transports only 6-7 per cent data against the global average of 46 per cent, TRAI Chairman R S Sharma said on Wednesday.
Sharma also called global companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon showing interest in the telecom space as an “interesting phenomenon”.
India has created many digital systems that are churning out huge amounts of data, and the country will have its own use cases for 5G, tapping into opportunities in multiple areas like Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, big data, healthcare and others, Sharma said while addressing ASSOCHAM webinar on ‘Digital: The next revolution’.
On spectrum, he said that the regulator has already given its recommendations, including for 5G radiowaves, and it is for the government to take the necessary steps.
“Up to 4G there is no dearth of spectrum, we have even given recommendation for 5G. Of course, telecom operators always keep saying you have given high reserve price…as far as we are concerned the horse has left the stable. It is with the government, and they will take the necessary steps,” he said.
Sharma rued that India has only 100,000 wifi hotspots as compared with France, which has has 1.8 million hotspots.
“…we need inclusive policy, wifi hotspots in remote and rural areas will be one of the steps to ensure that digital connectivity is available to everybody at their reach,” Sharma said.
More needs to be done on fixed line connectivity, he added.
“India is a peculiar country where you have 1.2 billion mobile connections and we boast that our mobile networks are transporting data more than mobile networks of US and China put together.
“But at times we forget to mention that we transport only 6-7 per cent data on the fixed line networks compared to world transporting 46 per cent on these networks. In US, they are transporting 60 per cent of their data on it,” he said.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has given its suggestions to government on strengthening fixed line infrastructure, Sharma said, adding that he hopes a decision is taken on regulator’s recommendations of leveraging cable TV infrastructure.
Sharma said TRAI believes that the telecom space must attract new categories of players.
“It should not just remain limited to telecom service providers which are providing vertically integrated elements…they put towers, fibre, network, central systems and then provide services to consumers. We need to have number of players in between,” he said.
TRAI will soon float a paper on unbundling these layers from service to network to infrastructure layer, he noted.
“The whole idea is not to reduce someone’s role or undercut somebody. The idea is how do you build an ecosystem in the sector where multiple players come,” he said.
The pandemic has demonstrated that there are digital productivity tools and contactless systems which are available and working well.
“In UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India), I am told…we were using the payment system using the fingerprints, now they are coming out with facial recognition technology. They are going to launch in a couple of weeks, I am told, so this is something which is going to accelerate,” he said.