India Monetising Existing Infra for 5G Rollout is a Win-Win for All, Says Telecom Regulator Chief

© Photo : TRAI / TRAI Chief VaghelaDr P D Vaghela, Chairman of India's Telecom Regulator TRAI
Dr P D Vaghela, Chairman of India's Telecom Regulator TRAI  - Sputnik International, 1920, 31.05.2022
India, the world's second-largest telecom market after China, has set a target to roll out 5G mobile services by the end of this year. The Indian government expects the 5G roll-out to add $450 billion to the economy.
Dr. P. D. Vaghela, the chairman of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, spoke about the 5G rollout and other issues impacting the digital economy during an interview with Sputnik.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, or TRAI, is a constitutional body set up in 1997 to regulate telecom services, including fixation/revision of tariffs for telecom services earlier vested in the Central Government.
Sputnik: Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has been operating for 25 years. What kind of power do you seek from the parliament, as the expanding digital space also brings complexities?
Vaghela: There is a long-pending demand for providing penal powers to TRAI. We are pursuing it; however, let me clarify that TRAI needs some extraordinary power. Even with the present system, TRAI is an effective regulator with the highest Gen5 benchmark, joining developed countries like Norway, Singapore, Japan, and the likes in the World Regulatory Benchmark Index.
Sputnik: What would you suggest to boost telecom equipment manufacturing in India, especially with snooping allegations linked to 5G hardware worldwide?
Vaghela: The government has implemented production-linked incentive schemes based on our recommendation to boost manufacturing in the country. There are incentives for telecom and networking equipment, including core transmission equipment and 4G/5G equipment.
We will develop another set of recommendations focusing on software development because a large-scale integration between software and hardware is underway.
Sputnik: The government has set a target to roll out 5G services by the year-end. What steps are you taking to help speed up the expansion of the game-changing network?
Vaghela: One thing which we are working on is a collaboration among various regulators and infrastructure providers.
For example, we are working on using the electricity poles for aerial fibres and using the space available to them for laying cables. This is a win-win situation for all, as electricity providers will earn some revenue from renting their poles to telecom operators.
Telecom operators will not have to purchase land from state or local authorities to lay fibres. The idea is to provide 5G services at affordable rates. It will also expedite the rolling out of 5G services across the country.
Power distribution companies will also benefit from 5G technology in terms of better distribution, a reduction in transmission loss, and smart metering.
Similarly, we have started four pilot projects -- one for the Kandla port, the second for Delhi airport, the third for the metro rail project in Bengaluru, and the fourth for the Bhopal smart city project. Here we are exploring possibilities to use the available infrastructure to roll out 5G services, which will have a larger impact on the digital economy as synergies among regulators will multiply the benefits.
Sputnik: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that India should be ready to launch 6G services by the end of this decade. What kind of preparation has TRAI initiated?
Vaghela: 6G is rightly in its nascent stage. Firstly, it was necessary to have a task force to formulate standards and research in 6G. The government set up a task force last November. We will come up with our recommendation once the government mulls building a 6G ecosystem in the country.
Sputnik: Media reports say that India has refused to permit importing hardware from the US and European Union, citing it originated in China. It has become a significant concern for the telecom sector,which is seeking network expansion. Will you come up with some suggestions to ease this kind of shortage?
Vaghela: The government has set rules and regulations for importing telecom equipment. No firm can import network or co-network equipment without the government's permission. Issuing permission for this equipment is the government's prerogative, and I think it is working well. We can not advise the government on such issues right now.
Sputnik: A recent survey suggests that almost every Indian gets daily spam calls or messages as people try to sell financial or property-related services. Do you have any new plans to improve the situation?
Vaghela: We issued regulations to control unsolicited commercial communications using blockchain technology. In this system, every advertiser must register itself with the telecom operators. Whatever messages they send, it has to be converted into a template with the telecom operators, so nobody can access that message or nobody can send the message or temper with that message to commit fraud or use it as spam for deceiving subscribers.
However, the problem still remains. We are discussing the matters with telecom operators about using artificial intelligence and machine learning.
We have also established a forum with the Reserve Bank of India, Securities and Exchange Board of India and Consumer Affairs Ministry to curb the menace of spam and fraud occurring in the digital world.
We will develop a mechanism to identify callers as per their registration with telecom operators. We hope this new mechanism will bring greater accuracy and transparency than some private mobile apps that identify callers based on crowdsourced data.
We have held deliberations with the International Telecommunication Union and regulators of some other countries to find solutions to the spam.
Sputnik: We saw the mushrooming of lending app services during the pandemic. They harass people, primarily in rural areas. How do you plan to curb such threats?
Vaghela: We have to admit that people indulging in such frauds are one step ahead of the regulator. In collaboration with various regulators, TRAI is working to find ways to stop this lending app fraud scam. We met international bodies, seeking their advice to stop this.
To participate in the discussion
log in or register
Заголовок открываемого материала