See industry investing Rs 2-3 lakh cr in two years: Telecom Minister

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India’s telecom industry is likely to see an investment of Rs 2-3 lakh crore in the next two years as reforms by the government have removed uncertainty and risks, and provided a stable investment regime, Communications Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said on Monday.

Buoyed by record bids in the auction of 5G spectrum, Vaishnaw said he expects investments to be infused into both fourth and fifth generation technologies, for providing better voice quality and high-speed data.

On what kind of mobile tariff could be expected by consumers in 5G as operators begin rolling out services from October, the minister told PTI he is of firm belief that the trend of affordable services will continue in India.

The minister’s comments assume significance as the telecom industry spruced up its spectrum holdings at India’s first-ever 5G auctions, that concluded on Monday.

India’s biggest ever auction of telecom spectrum received a record Rs 1.5 lakh crore of bids, with Mukesh Ambani’s Jio cornering nearly half of all the airwaves sold with Rs 88,078 crore bids.

Richest Indian Gautam Adani’s group, whose entry in the auction was billed by some as another flash point in the rivalry with Ambani, paid Rs 212 crore for 400 MHz quantum or less than 1 per cent of all spectrum sold, in a band that is not used for offering public telephony services.

Telecom tycoon Sunil Bharti Mittal’s Bharti Airtel made a successful bid of Rs 43,084 crore, while Vodafone Idea Ltd bought spectrum for Rs 18,799 crore.

“The level of investment in the sector could be anywhere between Rs 2-3 lakh crore, in the next two years. It is going to be significant investment by the industry,” Vaishnaw said.

The minister said that he had interacted with investors in telecom sector, and the response had been good.

“I have met telecom sector investors, and they are feeling quite comfortable at this time…most of the risks that were there in the sector, have been removed today,” Vaishnaw said.

On 5G tariff, and whether these ultra high speed, low lag services would command a premium, the minister said, “What has happened in the country so far, the trend should not be very different from what it is…The tariff should remain affordable, is my sense, but this is something that should be seen when services get launched.”

Besides powering ultra-low latency connections, which allow downloading full-length high-quality video or movie to a mobile device in a matter of seconds (even in crowded areas), the Fifth Generation or 5G would enable solutions such as e-health, connected vehicles, more-immersive augmented reality and metaverse experiences, life-saving use cases, and advanced mobile cloud gaming, among others.