Draft telecom policy aims at $100 bn investment; 4 mn jobs on the cards

The government on Tuesday came out with the draft of the New Telecom Policy — National Digital Communications Policy 2018 —to create 4 million jobs by 2022, attract $100 billion investment in the sector and ensure broadband coverage at 50 mbps for every citizen.

The draft also proposes to address the woes of the debt-ridden telecom sector by reviewing licence fees, spectrum usage charges, universal service obligation fund levy, all of which add to the cost of telecom services, under the new policy for enhancing ease of doing business in the sector.

The policy also looks to increase the contribution of digital communications to India’s gross domestic product (GDP) to 8 per cent, besides propelling India among the top 50 nations in the ICT development index.

To achieve the targets by 2022, the policy envisages three missions — Connect India, Propel India and Secure India.

Under connect India, the policy aims to provide the broadband coverage at 50 mbps to every citizen and enable deployment of 10 million Wi-Fi hotspots by 2022, and provide connectivity in all uncovered areas. It has also been proposed that spectrum should be utilised efficiently and satellite communications needs should be developed.

In order to facilitate mobile tower infrastructure, the policy aims to expedite right of ways permissions in government buildings and also promote green towers.

The policy plans to establish a comprehensive data protection regime for digital communications that safeguards the privacy, autonomy and choice of individuals and facilitates India’s effective participation in the global digital economy.

It also proposes to recognize the mid-band spectrum, particularly the 3 GHz to 24 GHz range, for next-generation networks. It also outlined road map for backhaul spectrum for transmitting signals between mobile towers according to international best practices.

According to the DoT, the new policy is governed by the guiding principle of alignment with the national vision. Its major themes are 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 (IoT). The government wants to encourage innovation, manufacturing, and develop a large pool of digitally skilled man-power.

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