The government has finally come out with draft Telecom Policy 2108 called as the National Digital Communications Policy, 2018 which has six broad objectives – Provisioning of broadband for all; Creating 4 million additional jobs in digital communications sector; Enhancing contribution of digital communications to 8% of India’s GDP from 6% in 2017; Propelling India to the Top 50 nations in the ITU ICT Development Index from 134 in 2017; Enhancing India’s contribution to global value chain; and Ensuring digital sovereignty.
The National Digital Communications Policy, 2018 envisages three missions: Connect India: Creating Robust Digital Communications Infrastructure; Propel India: Enabling Next Generation Technologies and Services through Investments, Innovation and IPR generation; and Secure India: Ensuring Sovereignty, Safety and Security of Digital Communications.
In Connect India, the focus is on promoting broadband for all as a tool for socio-economic development, while ensuring service quality and environmental sustainability. Propel India focuses on harnessing the power of emerging digital technologies, including 5G, AI (Artificial Intelligence, IoT (Internet of Things), Cloud and Big Data to enable provision of future ready products and services and to catalyse the Industry 4.0 by promoting investment, innovation and IPR. Secure India tries to secure the interests of citizens and safeguard the digital sovereignty of India with a focus on ensuring individual autonomy and choice, data ownership, privacy and security while recognizing data as a crucial economic resource.
Connect India: Goals and Strategies
The focus is on providing universal broadband coverage at 50 Mbps to every citizen; Provide 1 Gbps connectivity to all gram panchayats of India by 2020 and 10 Gbps by 2022; Enable 100 Mbps broadband on demand to all key institutions; Enable fixedline broadband access to 50% of households; Achieve ‘unique mobile subscriber density’ of 55 by 2020 and 65 by 2022; Enable deployment of 5 mn public Wi-Fi hotspots by 2020 and 10 mn by 2022; and Ensure connectivity to all uncovered areas.
To get this done, the focus is on establishing a ‘National Broadband Mission – Rashtriya Broadband Abhiyan’ to secure universal broadband access; optimise availability and utilisation of spectrum; strengthening satellite communications; ensuring inclusion of uncovered areas; and ensuring customer satisfaction, quality of service and effective grievance redressal.
Focus is on taking fibre to the home, to enterprises and to key development institutions in tier I, II and III towns and to rural clusters. Establishment of a National Digital Grid will help in establishing common service ducts and utility corridors in all new city and
highway road projects, and related elements. Improving international connectivity and reduce the cost of international bandwidth by facilitating setting up of International Cable Landing Stations by rationalising access charges and removing regulatory hurdles.
Creating a Broadband Readiness Index for states/UTs to attract investments and address RoW (Right of Way) challenges. Promoting Next Generation access technologies and effective utilisation of high capacity backhaul E-band (71-76/81-86 GHz) and V-band (57-64 MHz) spectrum in line with international best practices. Reviewing SATCOM policy for communication services, along with Department of Space, keeping in view international developments and social and economic needs of the country. Creating telecom ombudsman for protecting consumer interests.
Propel India: Goals and Strategies
The focus is on attracting investments of $100 billion in the digital communications sector; Creation of innovation led start-ups in digital communications sector; Development of Standard Essential Patents (SEPs) in the field of digital communication technologies; Train/Re-skill 1 million manpower for building new skills; Expand IoT ecosystem to 5 billion connected devices and accelerate transition to Industry 4.0
Ensuring a holistic and harmonised approach for harnessing emerging technologies such as 5G, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing and M2M; Earmarking adequate licensed and unlicensed spectrum for IoT/M2M services; Ensuring adequate numbering resources by allocating 13-digit numbers for all M2M mobile connections; Establishing India as a global hub for cloud computing, content hosting and delivery, and data communication systems and services; Promoting research & development in Digital Communication Technologies; Creating fund for R&D in new technologies for start-ups and entrepreneurs to enable innovation in cutting technologies; Promoting start-ups; Maximising India’s contribution to global value chains, by focussing on domestic production, increasing exports and reducing the import burden; Ensuring strict compliance to Preferential Market Access requirements; Building human resource capital to facilitate employment opportunities in Digital Communications Sector:
Developing market for IoT/ M2M connectivity services in sectors including agriculture, smart cities, intelligent transport networks, multimodal logistics, smart electricity meter, consumer durables etc.
Secure India: Goals and strategies
The focus is to establish a comprehensive data protection regime for digital communications that safeguards the privacy, autonomy and choice of individuals; Ensure that net neutrality principles are upheld and aligned with service requirements; Develop and deploy robust digital communication network security frameworks; Build capacity for security testing and establish appropriate security standards; and Address security issues relating to encryption and security clearances.
The focus is to establish a strong, flexible and robust data protection regime; providing autonomy and choice for every citizen and enterprise; Assure security of digital communications; Developing security standards for equipment and devices by harmonising the legal and regulatory framework applicable to security standards such as the BIS Act, Electronics & Information Technology Goods (Requirements for Compulsory Registration) Order, Indian Telegraph Act, etc.; Strengthening security testing processes by establishing domestic testing hubs and laboratories with state-of-the art facilities; Formulating a policy on encryption and data retention, by harmonising the legal and regulatory regime in India pertaining to cryptography with global standards; Establishing a Security Incident Management and Response System for Digital Communications Sector; and Developing a comprehensive plan for network preparedness, disaster response relief, restoration and reconstruction.
It is expected that very soon, the government will also notify on the detailed process for receiving the comments/inputs on DoT website which will help make the draft Telecom Policy 2018 better and take India to newer heights.