For Digital India, Kick-Start 5G Rollout After Covid
Voice and Data|May, 2020
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For Digital India, Kick-Start 5G Rollout After Covid
The government should overcome revenue loss arguments and provide 100 MHz of 5G spectrum to all existing operators at no cost, with clear rollout conditions and targets
Akhil Gupta

I believe there is unanimity in recognizing that the telecommunication industry by providing necessary connectivity to every nook and corner of India proved to be a lifeline of the country during lockdown where almost all non-field workers were forced to work from home (WFH).

It is quite natural for the Indian telecom industry, which is facing an unprecedented financial crunch due to the AGR ruling (practically equivalent of what COVID-19 is doing to other industries), to expect the government to appreciate and recognize the critical role of this vital industry by announcing various relief measures like reduction in GST rate, license fee, and spectrum charge, etc.

The purpose of this article is not to reiterate the need for those concessions. Even if the government is favourably inclined towards the industry’s demands, it will find it difficult to agree since those concessions will directly impact revenue; the fiscal deficit in the current year will go well beyond 5% at the least. And that is with the somewhat modest stimulus package of only 1.75 lakh crore announced so far, which translates to a mere 0.8% of the GDP.

India needs much more. Even if we are not able to be as generous as the USA at 10% of GDP and most other developed countries in between10-20% of GDP, the country will have to, and must, allocate 4-5% of GDP for kick-starting the economy post-COVID-19 and for the survival of a large section of rural workers, daily wage earners and a very large number of MSMEs.

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May, 2020