The Department of Telecom (DoT) is likely to float draft of the National Telecom Policy 2018 within a week for public comments, an official source said. “The draft (of the NTP 2018) is very likely to be issued within a week,” the source, who is closely associated with policy draft formulation, told PTI. The NTP 2018 is expected to present a growth road map of the Indian telecom sector, which is reeling under a severe financial stress, for a period of next five years. The Economic Survey 2017-18 tabled in Parliament last week noted the telecom sector is going through stress due to a huge debt pile, tariff war and irrational spectrum costs and called for policy measures to minimise over-bidding of assets during auctions. The survey said auctions in case of spectrum as also coal and renewables led to transparency and avoided rent-seeking, although they “may have led to a winners’ curse, whereby firms overbid for assets, leading to adverse consequences in each of the sector”. “…policy design must minimise these costs wherever possible. More specifically, there should be greater reliance on using incentives and carrots than on sticks,” the survey said.
Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan last month had said the government will look at positioning the telecom sector primarily as an enabler to boost the economy rather than a revenue earner under the new NTP. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has recommended road map for NTP 2018 that should be able to address global requirements and attract investments of about USD 100 billion by 2022. The regulator has suggesed that the NTP 2018 should facilitate ease of doing business through simplification of licensing and regulatory frameworks, rationalisation of taxes, levies and related compliances, and facilitating availability of resources, including spectrum.
Trai recommended that under the new policy framework, the telecom sector should be able to generate 20 lakh jobs, achieve 900 million broadband subscriptions with download speed of 2 Mbps and connect all gram panchayats with at least 1 gigabit per second with wireless broadband by 2022. Trai reiterated its long pending demand of putting in place an ombudsman based consumer grievance redressal mechanism “by end of 2018”. The draft was earlier expected to be released by the end of December or early January.