Telecom Industry Current Affairs - 2019

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Telecom Ministry forms committee to spell out revival plans for Telecom sector

Acknowledging that country’s telecom industry was under financial stress, Union Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had constituted a committee chaired by Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan to spell out revival plans for Telecom sector.

About Aruna Sundararajan Committee

Background: As the Indian telecom sector is under stress for a long time Union Minister has decided to deal with this issue now on priority basis thus for this purpose he will be meeting all telcos ‘at the earliest’ to discuss various sectoral issues and also constituted Aruna Sundararajan Committee to look into entire issue of removing ambiguities in ease of doing business and also to revisit the whole issue of SUC.

Need: Reduction of levies and fees, such as licence fee, SUC and universal service levy, has been a long-standing demand of Telecom industry, along with review of definition of aggregated gross revenue and this will also be main focus areas of committe.

Purpose: To review levies, including spectrum usage charge (SUC), and promote Ease of Doing Business (EDB) in telecom sector.

Mandate:

The Committee headed by Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan would submit its report in 2 weeks’ time.

In case of any issues which require clarity, committee has been directed to seek views of Solicitor General.

Committee would also look into previous recommendations provided by sectoral regulator TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) on the issue.

Way Forward

The Government of India is also looking into revival plan for state-owned BSNL (Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited) and MTNL (Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited) on priority and the details for that are being worked out.

Vodafone Idea Ltd: Idea Cellular and Vodafone completes merger to create India’s largest telecom operator

The merger of Idea Cellular and Vodafone India has been completed after it was cleared by National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT). This merger has created India’s biggest telecom service provider. The merged entity is named Vodafone Idea Ltd and dislodges current market leader Bharti Airtel from top position, by its sheer size and scale. New board has been constituted for merged entity with 12 directors (including six independent directors) and Kumar Mangalam Birla as its Chairman.

Key Facts

The combined entity will have nearly 443 million customers surpassing Bharti Airtel’s 344 million users. Moreover, it will have all-India revenue market share of 32.2% and take numero uno slot in nine telecom circles. It will have broadband network of 3.4 lakh sites and distribution network with 17 lakh retail outlets.

The combination will have wide spectrum portfolio of about 1,850 MHz, over 2 lakh mobile sites and about 2.35 lakh kms of fibre network. This will allow merged entity to offer superior voice and broadband connectivity across the country, covering 92% of the population and reaching nearly 5,00,000 towns and villages.