With an aim to gather views from different stakeholders including the industry and civil society on the National Telecom Policy-2018 that is being formulated by the Centre, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has issued a consultation paper seeking comments on structure and contents of the policy document, apart from other issues deemed to be important for growth of the telecom sector.
In August 2017, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) sent a reference letter to Trai seeking the regulator’s views on the new telecom policy. Following this, a number of working groups were formed internally to decide on the broad contours of the policy, for which, now, Trai has sought comments from stakeholders. The DoT is expected to finalise the policy, which will define the roadmap for the telecom sector, by March.
As outlined in the Trai consultation paper, the objectives of the new telecom policy include achieving the target of 900 million broadband connections with a minimum download speed of 2 Mbps; establishing 10 million public Wi-Fi hotspots across the country; attaining average speed of 20 Mbps for wireless internet connectivity; and placing India among top-50 nations in global rankings of network readiness, communications systems, and services. Apart from this, the objectives also call for enabling of access for connecting 10 billion Internet-of-Things (IoT) and Machine-to-Machine (M2M) sensors and devices while attracting $100 billion investment in the communications sector.
“National Telecom Policy-2018 can have twin goals viz. facilitate development of communication infrastructure and services to achieve inclusive socio-economic growth in the country,” Trai noted in its paper, adding that this could be achieved through strategies like a review of the license fee and spectrum charges; working towards One Nation – One License for services, and making available finance for communication infrastructure projects on par with that of connectivity infrastructure sectors like roadways and railways.
Once Trai’s consultation process is concluded, it will send a set of recommendations to the DoT upon which the department would take a call. The DoT itself has formed 13 working groups to study various themes pertaining to the telecom sector, and to prepare a draft of the policy document. Upon DoT preparing the draft National Telecom Policy, it will once again be made public for views from different stakeholders.