“I am happy that the AGR issue is now settled. In this certainty, the court orders are very clear that telcos know very well what is to be paid and the timeframe. And the government is also clear. We are hopeful that this clarity, this finality, this closure of the issue will now lead to more investments in the telecom sector,” telecom secretary Anshu Prakash said at the ETTelecom Digital Telco Virtual Summit 2020.
The definition of AGR has snowballed into a major controversy between the telecom carriers and the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) following the demand notices and subsequent hearings at the top court’s three-member bench.
Early this month, the Supreme Court allowed telecom companies a 10-year window to pay their balance adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues of over Rs 1.4 lakh crore, beginning with an upfront 10% payment by March 31, 2021, and the rest in 10 annual installments ending March 2031.
Over the next decade, the official said that more progress in the telecom sector is anticipated.
Prakash said that in line with the national policy unveiled in 2018, based on this, the department is working on spectrum reform measures, as well as reform in various aspects of spectrum management.
“We’re also working on how to improve telecom infrastructure. This, I believe, will be another great opportunity for all of us actually involved in this sector,” he added.
The top official also said that the penetration of wireline broadband is challenging that requires improvement for which the telecom industry should collectively work.
“If we have to enumerate the challenges. Certainly, the proliferation of wireline broadband in India requires much improvement. In an international scenario, we have to improve our position,” telecom secretary Anshu Prakash said at the ETTelecom Digital Telco Virtual Summit 2020.
India currently ranks at 126th position worldwide in fixedline connections which are at 1.33 per hundred individuals.
“Since broadband proliferation is becoming pervasive, broadband adoption will certainly also depend on how fast we are able to proliferate, expand our wireline broadband networks. So we must together work on this also,” Prakash said.
In December last year, the department has launched the National Broadband Mission that aims to make broadband services available to all by 2022.
The official further said that the fiberisation of towers would remain an integral part of deploying the broadband infrastructure.