National Telecom Policy 2018: Trai paper seeks stakeholders’ comments

January 03
18:48 2018

As the government plans to come out with the National Telecom Policy (NTP) 2018 by March, sectoral regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has issued a consultation paper seeking views from all stakeholders on the structure and contents of the proposed inputs for the policy.

The policy would set the mission and objectives to be accomplished by the end of 2022 when India will be celebrating its 75 years of independence. It would also specify the strategies to accomplish such objectives as well as capacity building in general.

“Therefore, National Telecom Policy-2018 can have twin goals — facilitate the development of communication infrastructure and services to achieve inclusive socio-economic growth in the country and to propel India to become the front-runner in the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” Trai said in its consultation paper.

Through the paper, Trai is seeking comments from stakeholders regarding the structure and contents of the proposed inputs for NTP 2018, clearly outlining the specifics along with justification. Stakeholders may also suggest any other issue related to the policy framework that they feel is important for the growth of the telecom sector.

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had sought comments from Trai regarding the formulation of the NTP 2018.

The objectives of NTP 2018 include increasing rural tele-density to 100 per cent and attracting an investment equivalent to $ 100 billion in the communication sector.

The policy aims to enable access to high-quality wireless broadband services at affordable prices for 90 per cent of the population and to achieve 900 million broadband connections with a minimum download speed of 2 Mbps, out of which at least 150 million connections will have a minimum download speed of 20 Mbps. The objectives of the policy also include leapfrogging India among the top-50 nations in international rankings in terms of network readiness, communications systems, and services.

Other objectives of the policy include developing 10 million public Wi-Fi hotspots in the country, attaining average speed of 20 Mbps for wireless and 50 Mbps for wireline internet connectivity, providing data connectivity of at least 1 Gbps speed to all the gram panchayats, and enabling access for wireline broadband services to 50 per cent of the country’s households.

According to the DoT, the new telecom policy will be governed by the key guiding principle of alignment with the national vision. Its major themes will be 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 the internet of things (IoT).

Through the new telecom policy, the government seeks to take socio-economic development down to the bottom of the pyramid by ensuring voice, video and data connectivity for all, providing reliable connectivity with assured quality of service, facilitating the development of infrastructure and services for new technologies, including 5G and IoT. The government also wants to encourage innovation and manufacturing, and develop a large pool of digitally-skilled manpower by restructuring regulatory and licensing frameworks impacting the telecom sector.

According to an Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) study, a 10 per cent increase in the rate of growth of broadband subscribers will result in a 2.4 per cent increase in the GDP rate. International experience also suggests that telecommunication services catalyse the growth of all sectors of the economy, particularly the fundamental sectors like health, education, agriculture, digital services, and industry.

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