Despite consolidation witnessed in the Telecom Sector in the last decade, there is sufficient competition as at least four telecom service providers are present in each of the 22 licensed service areas in the country, the government said on Wednesday.

In a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Communications Devusinh Chauhan said, “There has been a consolidation in the telecom sector since 2012. Even after the consolidation, there is sufficient competition in the sector as at least four Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) including one PSU (BSNL/MTNL) are present in each Licensed Service Area (LSA). The country is divided into 22 LSAs.”

Consolidation in the telecom sector has resulted in optimum utilisation of resources including radio spectrum. The same is evident from the substantial increase in the number of telecom towers, network coverage and subscriber base, the minister said.

The number of telecom base stations in the country has grown from 6,49,834 (as on 31 March 2014) to 23,25,948 (as on 28 February 2022). At present, the mobile networks in India are serving more than 115 crore subscribers (as on 31 December 2021). Nearly, 98 per cent of the population is covered with 4G network. Further, there has been a significant reduction in tariffs for voice and data since 2016 which also indicates the presence of adequate competition in the telecom sector, the minister added.

The Union Cabinet in its meeting held on 15 September 2021 approved the proposal for rationalising definition of Gross Revenue/ Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR), rationalising of interest rates and removal of penalties, rationalising Bank Guarantees requirements and permitting 100 per cent FDI under automatic route in telecom sector.

“These reforms are expected to promote healthy competition, infuse liquidity, encourage investment and reduce regulatory burden on Telecom Service Providers,” Chauhan said. (ANI)