According to the Economic Survey of India, over the last few years, telecom sector in India has become data driven and is witnessing reducing costs of data due to the fierce competition in the sector. This has boosted data usage even further. Total volume of wireless data usage increased by more than 7 folds from 4206 petabyte in first quarter (Q1) FY’18 to 32,397 petabytes in Q1 FY’22.

Meanwhile, the average wireless data usage in gigabyte (GB) per data user per month has also increased from just 1.24 GB per month in Q1 FY’18 to 14.1 GB per month in Q1 FY’22. In addition, the number of mobile towers has also increased substantially reaching 693,000 towers in December 2021, reflecting that the telecom operators have well realised the potential in the sector and seized the opportunity to build up an infrastructure that will be fundamental in boosting the government’s Digital India campaign.

Under the flagship BharatNet project, as on September 27, 2021, 5.46 lakh kilometres optical fiber cable (OFC) has been laid, a total of 173,000 gram panchayats (GP) have been connected by OFC and 159,000 GPs are service ready on OFC. Further, 4,173 GPs have been connected over satellite media. Wi-Fi hotspots have been installed at 104,000 GPs of which services are being provided at 64,000 GPs, catering to more than 1.61 million subscribers with a data usage to the tune of 5,670.42 TB per month.

The Economic Survey 2021-22 also noted that the telecom sector reforms are poised to boost 4G proliferation, infuse liquidity and create an enabling environment for investment into 5G networks.

In the backdrop of the efficient performance of the telecom sector in meeting Covid-19 challenges and with huge surge in data consumption due to online education, work from home, interpersonal connect through social media, virtual meetings etc., the reform measures will further boost the proliferation and penetration of broadband and telecom connectivity.