The communications ministry will set up working groups to deliberate on the new telecom policy (NTP) and hopes it will become a reality in 2018, Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan said today. The policy in the offing, will focus on areas such as Internet for all, next-generation technologies (like 5G and Internet of Things), skills development, and security, among others. “We are commencing the work (on NTP)…and we will be setting-up the working groups and committees for this,” Sundararajan said on the sidelines of an event on ‘ICT: Engendering New Governance Structure’.
Asked if the telecom department hopes to bring the new policy in the sector sometime in 2018, she replied in affirmative saying, “yes, we are indeed hopeful”. Speaking at a seminar, Telcom Minister Minister Manoj Sinha said the upcoming policy will be application driven as compared to connectivity driven at present. The policy has to focus on the end users and should look at the newer opportunities for expanding the availability of telecom services, the minister added. He further pointed out that the advent of high-speed data services and enhanced user expectation of getting real time on-demand band-width to run live applications has set the tone for new policy.
Sundararajan said that the ministry will initiate the “widest possible public consultation” involving the industry, and that a series of regional workshops have also been planned to get inputs from local stakeholders on the new policy. The department will work “intensively” on the policy over the next 3-4 months, she pointed out.
On whether Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) will be consulted on the policy, she said, “we will be in touch with TRAI for their policy inputs also”. The policy will focus on areas like Internet for all as well as new-age technologies like 5G and Internet of Things or IoT.
“Technologies like 5G and IoT will form the basis of the new Digital India. Other areas of focus will be skills development, getting more investments into telecom since we need to continuously upgrade our networks, and the aspect of security,” she said. India — which is the second largest telecom market in the world with over one billion mobile subscribers — saw FDI equity inflow of USD 5.56 billion between April 2016 to March 2017. This is more than four times the average inflow of about 1.3 billion dollars every year since 2013-14. However, the sector is now reeling under a staggering Rs 4.6 lakh crore of debt. The industry players, both large and small, are complaining of pressure on revenue and profitability due to intense competition in the market, and disruptive voice and data offerings of newcomer Reliance Jio.
Sundararajan said the inter-ministerial group – constituted to suggest ways to ease the industry’s financial stress – is expected to give its recommendations in ten days. She further added that the department is also considering setting up telecom Computer Emergency Response Team or CERT. “We intend to start work on its soon…as telecom industry grows and telecom network security becomes more important, we will need a dedicated organisation which can look into the aspects of that,” she said. The standards for telecom security and the modalities of emergency response mechanism would be part of the new architecture of the telecom CERT, she added.