Private telecom operators can play an important part in rolling out services envisaged under government’s Digital India project, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said today. Also Read - Gujrat government offering farmers up to Rs 1,500 to buy a smartphone
“I told them (Vodafone officials) India is going to be a big market for them…1.25 billion people…Digital India explosion and these companies are going to play big role in retail roll out obligation for taking it to villages and towns,” Prasad told reporters after meeting British telecom major Vodafone Group CEO Vittorio Colao. Government has brought all projects being run by it worth Rs 1.13 lakh crore involving IT and Telecom under the single umbrella of Digital India. The project includes availability of broadband services up to village panchayat by March 2017, 100 per cent tele-density, digital literacy etc. Government has included National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) under Digital India programme which will be function as common back-end infrastructure for broadband services. It has asked telecom operators to collaborate with it for delivering broadband services to end-counsumers using NOFN. Also Read - India's CCI must introduce anti-competitive practices for global tech giants, allow Indian businesses to flourish
Government on its own has proposed to build a WiFi based network at village panchayats for delivering broadband services. The Digital India programme also envisages WiFi hotspots in urban area. Prasad said that Colao along with Vodafone India Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Marten Pieters met him with a request to make more spectrum available for telecom services. It is estimated that over 1,500 Megahertz of spectrum will be available by 2015-16 across various frequency bands but government is yet to decide on the timeline to make these available to industry for mobile services. Also Read - India may soon announce its own ‘Atmanirbhar’ app store as alternative to Google, Apple
On this quantum of spectrum, Prasad said: “It will not be proper for me to make any comment till we get a firmer view (on availability of 1500 Mhz spectrum). We are in dialogue.” He said that his ministry is also talking with Ministry of Defense to make more spectrum available. The Minister said Department of Telecom is working to put all systems in place particularly spectrum trading and sharing whose guidelines will be finalized by end of this year. Spectrum trading and sharing are expected to remove delays in telecom companies acquiring more radiowaves.
Under these concepts, it is proposed to facilitate telecom companies to get more spectrum even from another telecom operator through mutual business deal rather than having to wait for a government auction of airwaves.