Bandwidth for growth
For a country whose telecommunications ministers worry about being labelled ‘call drop’ ministers, the recent auction of 2350 megahertz of telecom spectrum was disappointing. Only seven out of 11 telecom players in India participated, and there were takers for just around 40 per cent of the prized radio frequency band on offer. In fact, four operators will fork(काटना ) out 90 per cent of the Centre’s receipts from this auction, around Rs.66,000 crore, half of which will accrue(उपाजित होना) to the exchequer this fiscal. That translates into a 43 per cent shortfall from the Budget estimates from spectrum sales for this year, though Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has pointed out that the inflows(अंतर्वाह ) from the black money amnesty(आम माफी ) scheme would help the Centre balance its books. The official argument is that the poor response is a function of the high indebtedness (nearly Rs.400,000 crore at last count) of India’s telcos; the latter could, in turn, cite the high base price set by the government, pegging the potential value of the spectrum at Rs.560,000 crore. Any operator looking to build a national network using the most efficient spectrum on offer — in the 700 MHz band — would need over Rs.57,000 crore. Not surprisingly, not a single player evinced(दिखाई ) interest in this band.
In fact, it has been a suboptimal outcome from the perspective of every single stakeholder. India’s telecom success story has been integral to the country’s growth story in recent years, demonstrating(दिखाना ) to the world its ability to tap and grow the domestic market quickly as well as establish a global footprint. But a billion consumers, endless minutes of talk-time a day and low tariffs are not enough if the quality of service on offer is deteriorating(बिगाड़ना ), both in data and voice. In many areas, networks that should operate at 65 per cent capacity are working at 95 per cent due to high congestion, leading to poor voice services, as the telecom regulator, R.S. Sharma, noted recently. Despite the new spectrum with telcos, the sheer volume of voice traffic means that improvements in quality may be marginal. Similar issues plague(बिपत्ती ) data traffic. The focus of the existing telcos’ strategy for this auction has been to acquire enough spectrum to bolster 4G data services in urban markets, where they expect tough competition from the new player, Reliance Jio. This could have a bearing on the quality of connectivity and the reach of several of the government’s ambitious(महत्त्वाकांशी) programmes, from Digital India to direct benefit transfer. The government needs to learn from this episode and free the bureaucracy(अधिकारी तंत्र ) from the fear of the auditor and the investigator soon, for better outcomes in all its plans.
1)Fork meaning is divide, split, part, go in separate way.
2)Accrue meaning is increase by addition or growth, amass, accumulate.
3)Inflow meaning is flow, rush, incursion.
4)Amnesty meaning is pardon, forgiveness, reprieve, immunity.
5)Evinced meaning is display, show, reveal, manifest.
6)Demonstrating meaning is showing definitely.
7)Deteriorating meaning is decay, spoil, degenerate.
8)Plague meaning is disease that is widespread, contagion, curse.
9)Ambitious meaning is desiring success, energetic, enthusiastic.
10)Bureaucracy meaning is non elective government officials.