Nov 20, 2009|
The future of telecom becomes clearer
The next step in telecom becomes clearer
There has been a lot of uncertainty over the auction of third generation (3G) telecom services. Finally, the empowered group of ministers has brought some clarity. The auction will be held in January as scheduled. The Defence Ministry will release 20 MHz of 3G spectrum on time. Spectrum is the radio frequencies that allow mobile communication. 3G has the capability to make communication faster. In fact, almost 30 times faster than the currently used 2G services.
The original plan was to auction four licences per circle. Each licence comes with 5 MHz of spectrum. Now spectrum will be auctioned depending on the availability in each circle. Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh can handle three licences each. Delhi and Gujarat can handle two each. While West Bengal can handle one, it is zero in Rajasthan and the northeast. All other circles can sustain four licences.
It may be noted that there have been differences between Telecom Ministry and Defence Ministry over spectrum availability. Similarly, there have been differences between the Telecom Ministry and Finance Ministry over auction prices. As a result, the auction was postponed from the original date of December 2008. In our opinion, there are several big questions that operators will face once they commercially launch such services. The high cost of licences and limited operators are likely to keep the services expensive for the average consumer.
More Indians in the future
There are many factors that determine the fundamentals of an economy. Perhaps the most important is the human component. A skilled and large workforce can be a source of great competitive advantage for countries. However, an overflowing population without access to the basic amenities of life can pull down the overall economy. In fact, the impact is most acute on social indicators.
We must view the latest projections of the United Nations Population Fund in this light. As per the agency, India is going to be the world's most populous country in the next 40 years. Currently, China has the largest population with 1.3 bn people with India a close second with 1.2 bn. India has a higher fertility rate of 2.4%, as against 1.8% for the dragon nation. This rate is influenced by factors like literacy, awareness about family planning and reproductive health. These factors are within our influence. Hence, in our opinion, we must work on them on a war footing. Otherwise, all our other economic programmes will have a limited impact.
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