First of all I would like to congratulate you all Indian People, without them it wouldn’t be possible to get such a clear election mandate. So it is clear, people want stable & fracture less government for better future and so does Indian Telecom Industry. We as a part of Indian Inc, are hoping for the best in coming five years term and there are lots of expectations from newly elected (yet to be formed) government. Here is Telecom Industry’s Top 10 wish-list (or expectations) which I hope conveys the best sentiments of Telecom India.
1. Release of 3G/WiMAX Spectrum Auction Date:
We all have been waiting for it since last August. The last time when date was declared in Feb-09, we already knew it wasn’t going to happen till formation of new government, by the end of Jun-09. Now is the best time to take on the issue early. Longer the delay in decision making, more we are losing. Please no false promise this time!
2. Improving Rural Mobile (Internet) Penetration:
This is well known fact. Figures itself speaks for it. We have long way to go in establishing our self as a telecom superpower. With basic needs are yet to be satisfied, brining mobiles to the wish list of rural India is justified by the fact that, it is more of a necessity than luxury. Telecom Infra Sharing is well perceived but better infra sharing norms are needed, both active & passive. Better utilization of USO fund is must for the cause. Need clear guidelines for USO fund utilization for rural infra setup. We are waiting for it even before we foresaw it!
3. Making Broadband Affordable to masses:
Broadband in less than 200Rs? Why not? If speed is not a concern, reach-ability & affordability could be. With fastest Internet speed in India at 16Mbps, we have only 7million Broadband users. Awareness among people, high literacy rate among masses & relevance of Internet in day to day life could help in brining broadband to people unless we bargain on cost. Remember, we have cheapest call rates in world (for Voice) & but probably one of the costliest Internet usage rate in world. Just don’t talk in plain, mission is critical!
4. Improving QoS of existing mobile services (2G/2.5G/2.75G/CDMA-1/ADSL/EVDO etc) by making Operators more & more accountable:
If we are talking about 3G norms, then don’t forget that we are still far away from customer satisfaction on existing platform. This is our argument for launch of 3G/WiMAX in India. No Indian operator complies with QoS benchmark set by regulators, fully. Remember, a dropped call is lost revenue, but for customers it is just not only about money. We perceive things differently. Make Operators more & more accountable for QoS. Slapping fine is good, but needs more strict actions from you. A real tough decision is welcome!
5. Encouraging content development in Indian Languages:
If Web failed to ignite it, mobiles could do the same. We are ready to bring web on these portable devices, but remember still literacy rate in India is approx 60%, then forget about using Facebook. We could really bring revolution in mobile usage and all these aspects are interlinked with each other. And please, don’t do it in Microsoft way. We are still better aware of our own languages.
6 Making long term telecom policy, reviewed every five year, in consultation with Industry experts:
There is hardly any dual opinion about it. Benefits of clear guidelines are many, and in long term they are just innumerable. The theme of long term policy should be aligned for national interest (Local players benefits and encouraging competition for quality), beneficial for masses. Perhaps charting a separate telecom evolution path suitable for our need (Indian masses) will be just needed from you. Don’t look at China, we could have our own-A far better approach!
7. Encourgaing Telecom Technology Innovation and lessening technology dependency on foreign players in long terms:
It was a long time; we heard anything from C-DOT. If Huawei/ZTE could do it, why can’t we? It all comes from long term goals set by regulators/governments with specified chartered path. Much is said, less is done. No one could deny the benefits of non-dependence on unknown foreign players with lesser familiar technology evolution paths. Forget about loss of billions of dollars in revenues, we are vulnerable to threats/failures more than anything else. Industry (Telecom) – Academia parternership needs to be revived for this, but more will come from Industry vision rather than just pushing Innovation agenda. Telecom Excellence/ Research centers need to be flourished, all with your support. Believe me, coming generations will ripe its benefits.
8. Encouraging Telecom entrepreneurship:
We saw it in Software/IT/ITES, now we need it in Telecom. No sub-domain in telecom is less worth exploring. We saw much of innovation coming in content development & on software side (VAS) but believe me there lies tremendous potential in other aspects as well. All we need is budding intelligent minds ready to take on less traveled paths. Bharti Airtel has set an example earlier on by setting up Telecom Innovation Fund for budding telecom entrepreneurs, why can’t just take this idea to larger scale?
9. Identifying potential threats (long & short term) in front of telecom industry before they kill us:
No one foresaw the threat of fake Chinese mobiles to national security unless we were hit by it. Do we really need to learn our lessons in hard way, always? This not only applies to national security but also applies for new technologies making old vanish, all of a sudden. Telecom Industry needs your support to flourish irrespective of existing threats. We really rely on you for its identification & rectifications. And we are very serious about it.
10. Releasing new technology guidelines at faster pace:
Take an example of MVNO guidelines or VoIP, industry foresaw the benefits of both long back, but still we are helpless. We got the technology, we got the funds but we have no rules & regulations for it, what do you expect then? This time we won’t talk about need of time. Delaying on this means, we are going to lose more & more. Identifying potential markets & its relevance would certainly be helpful in quicker policy making.