Telecom Policy 2018’s draft aiming at $100 bn investment released

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New Delhi, May 1 (IANS) The government on Tuesday released the draft National Telecom Policy 2018 aiming to attract investments of $100 billion in the Digital Communications sector by reforming the licencing and regulatory regime in the country along with promoting ease of doing business.

The Draft National Digital Communications Policy – 2018, released on late Tuesday night, said its strategic objectives by 2022 are 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 India’s contribution to global value chains and ensuring digital sovereignty.

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By 2022 it aims to provide universal broadband coverage at 50 Mbps to every citizen and provide 1 Gbps connectivity to all Gram Panchayats of India by 2020 and 10 Gbps by 2022.

With the mission to “Connect India”, “Propel India” and “Secure India”, the policy aims to accord telecom infrastructure the status of critical and essential infrastructure.

Regarding ease of doing business in India, the policy plans to review levies and fees including License Fee, Universal Service Obligation Fund levy and concept of pass through revenues in line with principles of input line credit.

It aims to rationalise Spectrum Usage Charges to reflect the costs of regulation and administration of spectrum, rationalising taxes and levies on digital communications equipment, infrastructure and services.

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While planning to simplify and facilitate compliance obligations, the policy plans to reducing licence and regulatory compliance requirements keeping in view best international practices and simplify all existing technical systems and online systems applicable for grant of licences, approvals, clearances, permissions and developing a comprehensive end-to-end online platform.

The policy also aims at reforming the Guidelines for Mergers & Acquisitions, 2014 to enable simplification and fast tracking of approvals.

Recognising spectrum as a key natural resource, the draft policy wants to ensure identifying and making available new spectrum bands for access and backhaul segments for timely deployment and growth of 5G networks. “Making available harmonized and contiguous spectrum required for deployment of next generation access technologies and further liberalizing the spectrum sharing, leasing and trading regime.”

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It aims at transparent and fair mode of spectrum allocation by developing a fair, flexible, simple and transparent method for spectrum assignments and allocations, though the “Spectrum Advisory Team consisting of experts, industry and academia to facilitate the identification of new bands, applications and efficiency measures to catalyse innovation and efficient spectrum management”.

It also plans to create a roadmap for emerging technologies and its use in the communications sector, such as 5G, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Internet of Things, Cloud Computing and machine-to-machine (M2M).

It also plans to develop an ecosystem for satellite communications in India, with focus on streamlining administrative processes for assignment and allocations, clearances and permissions related to satellite communication systems.

–IANS

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