The fourth-generation (4G) penetration in India, at 21% in the first quarter of 2018, is significantly behind the average seen in other Asian Pacific countries, at 44% during the same period, says the Economic Times citing a report by the global telecom industry body GSMA. The report, carried out by GSMA Intelligence, a research wing of the London-based telecom group, largely attributed the high cost of telecom spectrum to the poor penetration of mobile connectivity in developing countries. “Since the 3G auction in 2010, the government approach to spectrum management has resulted in inflated spectrum prices and unsold spectrum. ARPU levels in India are also on average almost 35% lower than developing countries in the Asia Pacific overall (over the period 2010–2017). This suggests policy making by the government and regulator has played a role in the high spectrum prices,” the GSMA report said. GSMA Intelligence studied 1,000 spectrum assignments in 60 developing and 42 developed countries over a period of seven years to 2017. It is interesting to note that the report comes months after Reliance Jio Infocomm (Jio) announced that it is aiming to cover 99% of the country’s population by Diwali (September or October). Jio also revealed that its user base has increased to 186.6 million in Q1 2018. Market leader Bharti Airtel, and the soon to be largest telecom player in the country -- a joint venture between Vodafone India and Aditya Birla group’s Idea Cellular -- are also rapidly expanding their 4G footprint. However, the GSMA report also points out that…
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