Counting a number of milestones achieved by the NDA in the telecom sector on completion of two years of the Narendra Modi Government, IT and Communication Minister, Mr Ravi Shankar Prasad said at an ASSOCHAM meeting he would show firmness on the issue of quality of telecom service as he is answerable to the consumers and Parliament.
Addressing the ASSOCHAM Telecom Summit in New Delhi, Mr Prasad said now that the government has done its bit to address several concerns of the industry with regard to spectrum availability and making available government buildings for signal towers, the industry is duty-bound to “reinforce “ its network.
“I have done my duty; you need to do your duty as well, “the minister told top industry leaders. In response to an industry’s commitment to do “self-regulation.” Mr Prasad was categorical in reiterating that he was committed to monitor the work in this regard. He said in his effort to take the sector to a new level, the government has achieved a ‘modest’ success.
“Self–regulation, I do not understand, I will show firmness, will continue to monitor, “the progress of the network expansion and reinforcement by the telecom industry. Mr Prasad said he would be fair to all the stakeholders. “I shall be biased in favour of none; I shall be prejudiced against none.”
The minister emphasized that one of the major achievements of the NDA Government has been to correct the image of the ‘Sanchar Bhawan’ which had remained earlier in the news for the wrong reasons.
He said entry of middlemen in Sanchar Bhawan has been banned but ‘whatever doable will be done, whatever is not doable will not be done. I am clear about that.’
Enumerating various measures with regard to spectrum allocation in sufficient quantity and in a transparent manner, the minister said in the next two-three months, the government would go in for the largest auction of 2,000 MHz and after which there would not be any grievance on spectrum.
On the ambitious programme to take the fibre optic network under the ‘Bharat Net’ programme to 2.5 lakh village panchayats by 2018, he said the government is making every effort to meet the deadline under his personal strict supervision.
Besides, guidelines would soon be issued on the ‘Virtual Mobile Network’ under which an entity can operate without spectrum in partnership with the existing players.
On modernisation of post offices, he said over 21 664 branches have been connected with the core banking solution and the figure would reach 25,000 by next month making the India Post the largest core banking player, surpassing even the State Bank of India.
By March next, Postal payments banks would be made operational as the postal network is getting digital with facilities like ATM dispensers. Top domestic and global financial services firms including Deutsche Bank and Citibank have shown interest in partnering with the initiative.
Speed Post has been the biggest partner in the fast expanding e-commerce ‘explosion’ that is reaching even the hinterland, Mr Prasad said. Similar response has been forthcoming in the initiative to open call centres in small towns with an offer of 48,000 seat capacity, for which tender process is underway.
Welcoming investments and the interest shown by Apple CEO Tim Cook, who is visiting India, Mr Prasad said where else the global firms would get this kind of expansion opportunity. India would be soon moving towards the 50 crore smart phone mark from the present 27 crore, which is more than the population of several European countries.
The Minister was presented with the day’s deliberations of the ASSOCHAM Telecom Summit which was also addressed by Chairman of the TRAI, Mr R.S. Sharma in the morning.