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There is no doubt that the Indian telecommunication sector is sitting on a debt of over Rs 7.5 lakh crore and almost all telecom player is trying their level best to cope up with the situation by launching new plans and by revising the old ones.
The year 2018 also saw noteworthy steps being taken to establish a high-level forum for 5G in India was constituted this year, in partnership with the academic and other stakeholders.
Further, the year 2018 witnessed the merger between Vodafone and Idea Cellular to create the largest telecom company in the country and to give tough competition to Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel.
Now, as we head towards the new year 2019, GizBot try to cover major highlights of the year in the telecom sector, which are worth your attention.
Vodafone and Idea Merger
As we all know Reliance Jio has changed everything in the telecom sector and forced Tata Group to exit the industry.
In fact, incumbents are looking for different ways to cope up with the situation by merging their operations and by launching new plans on a daily basis.
For those who are not aware, this year in August Vodafone has also completed its merger with Idea Cellular and it is expected to generate Rs.140 billion annual synergy, including opex synergies of Rs. 84 billion, equivalent to a net present value of approximately Rs.700 billion.
The new entity has 1850 MHz of total spectrum holding, over 200,000 unique GSM sites and 235,000 km of fiber, the merged company offers superior voice and broadband connectivity across the country, covering 92 percent of the population and reaching nearly 500,000 towns and villages.
National Digital Communications Policy 2018
With an aim to attract $100 billion investment and create 4 million jobs in the sector by 2022, The Union Cabinet has approved the National Digital Communications Policy (NDCP) 2018 this year in September.
The policy has projected that, by 2022, 10 gigabytes per second (Gbps) connectivity shall be provided at the gram panchayat level. NDCP seeks to ensure connectivity in all areas that are currently uncovered through channelizing the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF), thereby maximizing citizen-centric connectivity as well as last-mile inclusivity.
Under its 'Broadband for all' initiative, it aims to make sure that every citizen has access to broadband running at least at a speed of 50Mbps, while all key development institutes should be receiving at least 100Mpbs of speed by 2022. It recognizes spectrum as a natural resource and as a corollary, ensures its sufficient availability, efficient usage and putting together a fair and transparent allocation method for service providers.
Furthermore, the policy has also focussed on creating of an exhaustive roadmap for data privacy and protection so that all digital communications are safe, private and autonomously controlled by citizens.
Spectrum Auction and 5G Networks
It would not be wrong to say that the spectrum is the lifeline of telecom industry but at present almost all telecom players are against its auction yes you heard right as the price of the airwaves is very high.
However, this year in August has slashed the base price of the 700 MHz band by 43 percent to Rs 6,568 crore a unit and set Rs 4.92 billion per megahertz unpaired spectrum for the proposed 5G band of 3300-3600Mhz.
For those who are not aware, the last auction for access spectrum was held in October 2016 wherein around 60 percent spectrum remained unsold.
In fact, High-Level Forum (HLF) formed by the Government of India for 5G which recommended that the release of 5G spectrum be done in three tiers.
Meanwhile, Bharti Airtel and Ericsson, has recently said that they have successfully conducted India's first trial of Licensed-Assisted Access (LAA) technology over a LIVE LTE network.
The trail which was conducted by in Delhi-NCR recorded speed over 500 Mbps were recorded on smartphones in an indoor environment.
Going forward, the introduction of 5G services, along with the explosion of internet-of-things/ everything, will bring the need for infrastructure sharing which is expected to emerge as a key trend.
The next generation telecom infrastructure will be one of the core pillars in the transformation of India into a digital economy. Telecommunication services is a catalyst to empower citizens by providing them with transparent governance and services (education, health, legal, financial and safety) at their fingertips.