If the focus is on digital, the policymakers have to look at National Telecom Policy 2018 or Digital Convergence Policy from a different perspective as minor tweaking will not help the industry to move forward and achieve its objective. In 2018, the focus should be on convergence, sustainability, fiber and consumer.
Making telecom/digital sector attractive: The policymakers should make Indian telecom/digital sector looks attractive and self sustainable both in the short as well as long term for majority of the players. First, the spectrum pricing should be made in a such a way that service providers or digital providers are able to make profit in the 7th or 8th year in a 20 year license period and spectrum pricing should be worked accordingly. Even the revenue sharing percentage should reduce as service providers now have to incur higher capex cost vis-à-vis that what they used to incur in the past. Keeping in view al these, the overall digital or telecom sector should look attractive so that investors can invest in big way in India and also keep focusing on innovation to come up with new models.
Converged regulator/converged ministry: For India to become a top digital nation, there has to be one ministry called digital ministry and it should incorporate MeitY (Ministry of IT and Electronics), Ministry of Communications, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and also part of Ministry of Science & Technology i.e. Department of Space with respect to foreign satellite. Presently, for Information & Broadcasting, the nodal ministry is Ministry of Information & Broadcasting and same is the case with Ministry of IT & Electronics. If all these ministries come under one ministry say Ministry of Digital Affairs, it would be a cakewalk for the industry to achieve the objectives of National Telecom Policy 2018 or Digital Convergence Policy 2018 as in the digital world all these ministries are inter related.
Setting up a convergent regulator would also require a convergence bill outlining the very scope of convergent regulations and various issues associated with it so that everything is done at the right beginning.
Fund for urban fiber network: For any 4G, 5G or future services, Right of Way is a big problem and it needs to be sorted out at the earliest. The government should take GIS map of all submerged optical fiber cable (OFC) deployed by all large operators and form a consortium whereby fibres of all operators can be shared between all operators so that cost of services can be reduced and even services can be deployed fast as the focus is on sharing of OFC infrastructure. The government along with private operators should invest in laying of fibres wherever fiber infrastructure is minimal or not available so that India can get good quality broadband infrastructure in almost 90-95 per cent of its geography. This will also help in improving quality of service and help India leapfrog in terms of broadband infrastructure.
Digital consumer rights: The coming of Digital Convergence Policy 2018 or National Telecom Policy 2018 will also open up new digital services and the policymakers should frame up digital consumer rights so that nobody is inconvenience and subscribers get good quality service for a given price. In this case, quality of service and privacy needs to be given prime importance by digital service providers so that it is not misused at any point of time.