With an aim to provide relief to debt-stricken telecom companies, the government on Tuesday released the draft of new telecom policy titled National Digital Communications Policy 2018. The ministry of communications proposes to create 40 lakh new jobs by 2022 and increase the contribution of the sector to 8 percent of GDP from the current level of 6 percent in 2017. Addressing the issue of rising debt, the draft states to review license fee and rationalise spectrum usage charges based on the cost of regulation and administration of spectrum.

On health and safety standards, the draft states generating awareness around electromagnetic fields emissions based on international experience and global best practices. It also states about framing a comprehensive policy to encourage the adoption of environmental and safety standards, including generating awareness on hazards of e-waste and encouraging proper disposal management of equipment used.

To enable next-generation technologies and services through investments, the government also plans to attract investments of USD 100 Billion in the digital communications sector. It also wants to promote innovation led start-ups in the sector.  The draft policy also talks about providing universal broadband coverage at 50 Mbps to every citizen and 1 Gbps connectivity to all Gram Panchayats of India by 2020 and 10 Gbps by2022.

The draft of the National Digital Communications Policy – 2018 is uploaded on http://www.dot.gov.in for public comments. The stakeholders and public are invited to give their inputs on the draft policy for achieving the desired goals.

According to statistics, a 10% increase in broadband penetration in a country could lead to an over 1% increase in GDP. Realizing the need the draft policy states, “In order to expand mobile and broadband connectivity across the country, it is necessary to explore and utilise the opportunities presented by next generation-networks like 5G and other pioneering network access technologies including satellite communications. It would be critical to focus on fixed infrastructure development initiatives related to fibre deployment and Right of Way clearances that will form the bedrock of next-generation technologies.”

Once approved, you can also have institutional mechanisms to protect consumers’ interests including setting up of telecom Ombudsman and a centralised web-based complaint redressal system.

The Telecom Commission has also approved proposals for in-flight internet connectivity allowing mobile services in flights and ships.

The National Telecom Policy aims to achieve the following objectives by 2022:

  • Providing Broadband to all
  • Creating 4 Million additional jobs in the Digital Communications sector
  • A contribution of the digital communications sector to be increased to 8 percent of country’s GDP from  6 percent in 2017
  • Driving India to the Top 50 Nations in the ICT Development Index of ITU from 134 in 2017
  • Growing India’s contribution to Global Value Chains
  • Digital Sovereignty