New Delhi: Enhanced mobile payments technology along with 4G introduction will prove to be a game changer, facilitating the implementation of government’s social sector schemes in a faster and more secure manner, says the Economic Survey. Besides, connectivity through optical fibre network will also help transform the delivery of these programmes and boost the telecom sector growth.

“The introduction of 4G which could be a game changer and inclusion of fiber optic connectivity which will tremendously increase the reach and bandwidth along with greater use of mobiles in government’s social sector programmes could give a further boost to this fast growing sector,” the Economic Survey for 2015-16 tabled in Parliament said today.

The survey has identified mobile networks as one of the key tools for financial inclusion. “India should take advantage of its deep mobile penetration and agent networks by making greater use of mobile payments technology. Mobiles cannot only transfer money quickly and securely, but also improve the quality and convenience of service delivery,” it said.

The survey said the growth of telecommunications is one of the key drivers of socio-economic development and the performance of the telecommunications sector during 2015-16 has been encouraging.

The telecom service providers added approximately 33.4 million new telephone connections during April to October 2015.

The operators had added 29.65 million new connections in the corresponding period of 2014-15. Overall, the tele density in the country has increased from 79.4 per cent at the beginning of the financial year to 81.5 per cent at the end of October 2015, the survey said.

The total broadband connections have touched 120.9 million at the end of September 2015. To increase supply of wireless or mobile phone services capacity, the government has been frequently conducting spectrum auction.

In 2015-16, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) conducted auction of spectrum in March 2015 in 2100 MHz (used for 3G), 1800 MHz (2G and 4G), 900 MHz (2G and 3G) and 800 MHz (4G and 2G CDMA) bands.

“Total spectrum on offer was 470.75 MHz, out of which 418.05 MHz (88.8 per cent) was allocated to bidders. The value realised was Rs 1,09,874.91 crore (67.8 per cent more than the value of the allocated spectrum at reserve price),” the survey said.

The government has collected Rs 5,568.4 crore as spectrum usage charges during 2015-16, up to November 2015, it said.

Talking about connectivity through optical fibre cables (OFC) under BharatNet project, the survey said 1,03,643 kilometres of pipes and 74,994 km of OFC have been laid. Further, OFC has been laid in 32,049 gram panchayats (GPs).

The project aims to connect all 2.5 lakh gram panchayats with high speed broadband network. As per latest statement in Parliament, the government has revised date for connecting panchayats.

The timeline for connecting 1 lakh panchayats with OFC (optical fibre cable) to provide broadband connectivity under Phase 1 has been revised to December 31, 2016. Earlier, the NDA government had set December 2016 as deadline for connecting all 2.5 lakh gram panchayats.

The telecom sector in the six-month period attracted foreign direct investment of over USD 1 billion between April-November 2016. In 2014-15, the sector had attracted FDI of USD 2.89 billion, as per the survey.

The survey talked about Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communications under which machines, cars, home appliances etc can be operated using telecom network.

“The roadmap was released on 12th May 2015 and is expected to work as a reference document for all M2M ecosystem partners and will augment the policy goals of Make in India and Digital India,” the survey said.

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