Telecom Policy Draft Eyes $100 Billion Investment in Communications Sector

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has issued a consultation paper seeking views of stakeholders on a New Telecom Policy by March 2018.

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The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has issued a consultation paper seeking views of stakeholders on a New Telecom Policy, which is slated to be announced by March this year.

The consultation paper circulated by Trai on Wednesday suggests the main objectives of the NTP-2018 is to give a boost to the country’s electronics manufacturing base, which could attract investment equivalent to $100 billion in the communication sector alone.

Besides, the new telecom policy aims at achieving 900 million broadband connections at a minimum download speed of 2Mbps, develop 10 million public Wi-Fi hotspots in the country and catapult India into the top-50 nations in terms of network readiness.

”Through the present consultation paper, the Authority intends to seek views of stakeholders on the inputs for formulating National Telecom Policy 2018,” Trai said. Trai said the inputs have been prepared based on preliminary discussions with multiple stakeholders, including telecom operators, equipment manufacturers, industry bodies, and cloud-service providers.

The policy also aims at increasing rural tele-density to 100 per cent, providing data connectivity of at least 1 Gbps speed to all gram panchayats, and enabling access to high-quality wireless broadband services at affordable prices to 90 per cent of the population.

NTP-2018 can have twin goals – facilitate development of communication infrastructure and services to achieve inclusive socio-economic growth in the country; and to propel India to become the frontrunner in the ‘fourth industrial revolution,’ Trai said.

To establish India as a global hub for data communication, systems and services, Trai has suggested prescribing licensing and regulatory framework for cloud-service providers; declaring data privacy, protection, and security laws; prescribing policy for cross-border data transfer; enacting net-neutrality laws; and incentivising setting up of International Data Centres in India.

Trai has requested the stakeholders to give their written comments by 19 January. It has also asked for their views on any other issue related to policy framework, which stakeholders feel is important for the growth of the telecom sector, along with justification.

The Trai draft comes in the backdrop of telecom department setting up multiple working groups on the broad themes of the new policy which would focus on reviewing regulatory and licensing frameworks impacting the telecom sector, connectivity-for-all, quality of services, ease of doing business, and absorption of new technologies including 5G and Internet of Things or IoT.

For the roll-out of 5G, the government formed a panel in September to devise strategies for early deployment of the technology in India. The panel, which has representations from the industry, government and academia, aims to develop a competitive product portfolio for 5G with an objective of targeting 50 per cent of the Indian market and 10 per cent of global market over the next seven years.

5G is the next generation wireless access technology. It not only promises higher data capacity and speeds faster than 10GB per second but also possesses the capacity to connect billions of devices. According to industry estimates, 5G will also bring down the cost of transmitting packets of data on the network to one-tenth of that on a 4G network.

The technology is also expected to trigger progress across usages such as autonomous cars, apart from IoT.

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