Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha today exuded confidence that India’s growing data consumption will lead to a revival of the debt-laden industry but asserted that the government will not hesitate to intervene if needed. “There is nothing to worry… The sector has seen ups and downs… in 2000 also, there was a similar situation,” Sinha told reporters here. The minister pointed out that the telecom market in India – the world’s second largest in terms of the subscriber base – has the lowest telecom tariffs. “We have a huge subscriber base… the way the data
requirements are expanding, I am sure that in coming days, the financial health… the telecom service providers will
recover… and, if needed, the government will certainly intervene at the right stage,” he added.
Noting that the telecom operators were under a heavy debt burden, the minister said his task is to balance the interest of consumers as well as that of the telcos. “I am not a minister of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (the state-owned telecom corporation) only. I am the minister of telecom, so I have to take care of telecom operators also. They are under heavy debt,” he said. He expressed satisfaction that the consumers had benefited from cheaper tariffs and the competition in the sector. “I have to take care of the government revenue and consumer interest also. I cannot stand on one side,” he made it clear.
The minister expressed hope that the Cabinet nod for the second phase of the rural broadband project – Bharat Net –
will come soon. The second phase entails broadband connectivity for the remaining 1.5 lakh gram panchayats by
December 2018. Meanwhile, a tripartite memorandum of understanding was signed today between Bharat Broadband Network Limited, Department of Posts and BSNL for providing broadband connectivity for posting offices in rural areas. The MoU, signed in the presence of the minister, will provide broadband connectivity to about 1.3 lakh post offices in rural areas and 25,000 sub-post offices, thus taking high-speed connectivity to rural masses.