Cabinet nod for new telecom policy 2018 likely by July-end: Manoj Sinha

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New Delhi, June 12 (IANS) A new telecom policy aiming to attract investment of $100 billion in the digital communications sector is likely to be in place by July 2018, Communications Minister Manoj Sinha said on Wednesday.

“By July-end I am hopeful that the Cabinet approval will come for the National Digital Communications Policy,” Sinha told reporters here.

He was holding a press meet to share the achievements of the Department of Telecommunications and Department of Posts in the last four years.

The government on May 1 had released the draft National Telecom Policy 2018 aiming to attract investment of $100 billion in the Digital Communications sector by reforming the licencing and regulatory regime in the country along with promoting the ease of doing business.

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The draft National Digital Communications Policy focuses on provisioning of broadband for all, creating 4 million additional jobs in the digital communications sector and enhancing the contribution of the digital communications sector to 8 per cent of India’s GDP from around 6 per cent in 2017.

It also plans to propel India to the Top 50 nations in the ICT Development Index of International Telecommunication Union from 134 in 2017, enhancing New Delhi’s contribution to global value chains and ensuring digital sovereignty.

Talking about the last four years, Sinha said: “When we took over telecom department it had challenges like trust deficit. The sector was in turmoil. In the last four years we have brought in transparency and good governance.”

Asked about the present turmoil in the industry due to merger and consolidation resulting in job losses, Sinha said: “Consolidation is happening across the world. India is not out of that. After consolidation there will be major four to five players in the market.”

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Assuring that this was a passing phase and the turmoil would subside, the Minister said though there were some job losses, many new jobs had been created as well.

Talking about some important projects of the government, Sinha said “in-flight connectivity” services were likely to start within a year.

It is learnt that Communications Ministry officials will be meeting their counterparts in the Civil Aviation Ministry in a week to discuss this matter.

Asked about the poor health of the telecom sector the minister said: “It is true that subscription cost has gone down and services have become cheaper. There is a substantial improvement in call drop situation.”

Asked about the poor service quality of state-run BSNL and MTNL, the minister said these two telecom companies provide services in places where other operators cannot reach.

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But he admitted that there is need for improvement in both the companies.

The minister said the government is seriously examining the request of BSNL and MTNL for equity infusion.

While speaking on newer technology adoption like 5G, the minister said the government is gearing up for 5G adoption and unlike other telecom technology adoption this time the government would not miss the bus.

–IANS

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