Draft new telecom policy proposes bundle of sops

The draft new Telecom Policy, renamed ‘National Digital Communications Policy 2018’ has proposed universal broadband coverage at 50 Mbps to every citizen, 1 Gbps connectivity to all Gram Panchayats by 2020 and 10 Gbps (Giga bite per second)by 2022, fixed line broadband access to 50 per cent of households and 40 lakh new jobs in the sector by 2022.

The policy also aims to harness the power of emerging digital technologies, including 5G, AI, IoT, Cloud and Big Data to enable provision of future ready products and services; and to catalyse the fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0) by promoting Investments, Innovation and IPR.

To achieve the goals, the proposed policy also aims to attract $ 100 billion in the digital communications sector by 2022 with the help of regulatory reforms. The strategic objective is to enhance the contribution of digital communications sector to 8 per cent of India’s GDP by 2022 from 6 per cent in 2017, the draft policy maintained.

“The policy recognises the importance of continued improvement in the regulatory framework for attracting investments and ensuring fair competition, to serve the needs of Indian citizens. Given the sector’s capital-intensive nature, the policy aims to attract long-term, high quality and sustainable investments,” it said.
The draft also proposes to address pain points of the sector by reviewing licence fees, spectrum usage charges, universal service obligation fund levy – all of which add to cost of telecom services.

The draft policy proposes to adopt “Optimal Pricing of Spectrum” to ensure sustainable and affordable access to digital communications. High spectrum price and related charges have been main concern of telecom services segment which is reeling under a debt of around Rs 7.8 lakh crore.

To build high speed broadband networks, the government proposes to launch National Broadband Mission with provisions to facilitate massive optical fibre rollout across the country.

The draft proposes to make “requirement for telecom installations and the associated cabling and in-building solutions mandatory in all commercial, residential and office spaces by amending National Building Code of India (NBC), through Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS)”.

Besides, spectrum and fibre-based infrastructure, the draft proposes to revise satellite communication policy to deliver affordable connectivity across the country through it.

The draft policy proposes to promote use of products with intellectual property rights registered in India.
“Preferring domestic products and services with domestically-owned IPR in the procurement by government agencies, especially for the procurement of security related products,” the draft said.

The draft policy proposes to deploy public Wi-Fi Hotspots; to reach 5 million by 2020 and 10 million by 2022 and achieve ‘unique mobile subscriber density’ of 55 by 2020 and 65 by 2022. 

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