Govt telecom expenditure rises six-fold to Rs 60,000 cr between 2014-19

Chennai: The ever increasing cell phone user base in India and the rapidly rising Internet users have resulted in the government increasing its expenditure by six-folds in the sector, the Telecom Ministry has said.

In its official annual review, the Ministry said the government spent Rs 60,000 crore, a sum six times more that what it was in previous five years.

“Six-fold increase in government spending on telecommunications infrastructure and services in the country, from Rs 9,900 crore between 2009-14, to Rs 60,000 crore (actual and planned) between 2014-19,” a statement from the Telecom Ministry said.

Besides expenditure made in rolling out optical fibre based broadband network for rural area, the government said it made biggest ever telecom Spend in the North-East Region with allocation of Rs 10,800 crore for ongoing connecting projects in border areas, highways, and unconnected villages.

During the five years, government funded installation 2,335 mobile towers in phase one with outlay of Rs 4,781 crore and working on phase two which involves investment of Rs 7,330 crores for 4,072 mobile towers.

It has also earmarked Rs 2,250 crore for the submarine cable connectivity to Andaman and Nicobar Islands, in addition to strengthening connectivity within the islands and in Lakshadweep.

During the period, number of mobile base transceiver stations (BTS) more than doubled from 7.9 lakh in May 2014 to more than20 lakh in May 2018 and country-wide optical fibre coverage doubled, from 7 lakh kilometre in May 2014 to 14 lakh km in May 2018.

“Average mobile data usage per subscriber grew 51 times from 62 MB per month to 3.2 GB per month,” the statement said.

The review statement said there has been tariff reductions in telecom services rates that has benefitted consumers across the country between 2014-19.

“Average voice tariff declined by 67 per cent from an average per minute tariff of 51 paise in June 2014 to 11 paise in June 2018. Average data tariff declined by 96 per cent from Rs 269 per GB in 2014, to Rs 12 per GB in June 2018,” the statement said.

The Telecom Ministry also said another major investment of Rs 10,000 crore was made in expanding wifi ecosystem in the country. This includes 25,000 hot-spots by BSNL in rural exchanges, 7,000 hot-spots (e-Choupals) by Common Service Centres (CSCs) and additional one million hotspots that are planned to be set-up by March.

Jio to surpass Airtel?
Reports have stated that Mukesh Ambani-led Jio will surpass Bharti Airtel’s India mobile revenue for the first time, in the quarter ended December 2018, while posting yet another net profit growth, boosted by strong subscriber additions, say analysts.

In contrast, India’s new telecom market leader Vodafone Idea and second-largest Bharti Airtel are likely to report sizeable losses on higher costs, despite a slower decline in revenue, helped by an expected turnaround in average revenue per user (ARPU) as their minimum recharge plans start to take effect, reports add.

For Vodafone Idea, brokerage ICICI Securities estimated a net loss of Rs 4,001.7 crore in the fiscal third quarter, narrower than the Rs 4,974 crore loss in the July-September period last year.

NT Bureau