Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved National Digital Communications Policy-2018 (NDCP 2018). The government has also renamed the Telecom Commission which is the supreme decision-making body at the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) as the Digital Communications.
Digital infrastructure and services are increasingly emerging as key enablers and critical determinants of a country’s growth and well-being. With significant capabilities in both telecommunications and software, India, more than most countries, stands poised to benefit from harnessing new digital technologies and platforms to unlock productivity
The Department of Communication issued a notification this week, which said that the government had re-designated the telecom commission with a vision “to achieve the goal of digital empowerment and
the improved well-being of the people of India.” The notification also envisioned “fulfillment of the information and communication needs of citizens and enterprises through the establishment of a ubiquitous, resilient, secure, accessible and affordable Digital Communications Infrastructure and Services; and in the process, support India’s transition to a digitally empowered economy and society.”
In a report published by the Economic Times, the remits of the telecom regulator and the Telecom Commission are in the process of being widened that may see them overseeing issues such as data privacy, security, and cybercrime, which are currently being looked into by the IT ministry. These changes which are likely to come through an amendment in laws, underline the fact that consumers access most of their data via mobile phones, and hence the telecom department will need to get involved.
Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan told PTI in an interview.
“We have constituted several committees. We need to enlarge some committees… to bring inter-ministerial participation for views of the Department of Finance, Department of Space and Department of IT. Most of the committees have been constituted, and now we will get down to work,”
The key objectives of the National Communications Policy are:
In pursuit of accomplishing these objectives by the year 2022, the National Digital Communications Policy, 2018 envisages three Missions namely Connect India, Propel India, and Secure India.
The goals envisioned by the government to create a Robust Digital Communication Infrastructure is aimed at providing:
1. Universal broadband connectivity at 50Mbps to every citizen
2. 1 Gbps connectivity to all Gram Panchayats of India by 2020 and 10 Gbps by 2022
3. Enable100 Mbps broadband on demand to all key development institutions; including all educational institutions
4. Enable fixed line broadband access to 50% of households
5. Achieve ‘unique mobile subscriber density’ of 55 by 2020 and 65 by 2022
6. Enable deployment of public Wi-Fi Hotspots; to reach 5 million by 2020 and 10 million by 2022
7. Ensure connectivity to all uncovered areas.
8. Attract investments of USD 100 Billion in the Digital Communications Sector.
9. Creation of innovation led Start-ups in Digital Communications sector.
10. Establish a comprehensive data protection regime for digital communications that safeguard the privacy, autonomy, and choice of individuals and facilitates India’s effective participation in the global digital economy.
11. Enforce accountability through appropriate institutional mechanisms to assure citizens
of safe and secure digital communications infrastructure and services.
Implementation of the following broadband initiatives will be funded through USOF (Universal Service Obligation Funds) and public-private partnerships.
The policy advocates:
1. Establishment of a National Digital Grid by creating National Fibre Authority a
2. Improve international connectivity and reduce the cost of international bandwidth by facilitating setting up of International Cable Landing Stations by rationalizing access charges and removing regulatory hurdles.
3. Enabling Infrastructure Convergence of IT, telecom and broadcasting by Amending the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 and other relevant acts for the purpose of convergence in coordination with respective ministries and reconstructing legal, licensing and regulatory frameworks for reaping the benefits of convergence.
3. Promoting broadband connectivity through innovative and alternative technologies.
4. Train/ Re-skill 1 Million manpower for building New Age Skills.
5. Establishing India as a global hub for cloud computing, content hosting and delivery, and data communication systems and services.
The task before India’s policymakers is to ensure that the advantages of the new technologies are accessible to all equitably and affordable; while securing them against existing and emerging threats. The new policy is expected to give a thrust to the entire telecom sector and ensure the financially stressed industry is not merely treated as a revenue generator but one that can provide immense socio-economic impetus to the economy.