Run-up to 5G: Trai pushes for digital inclusion; proposal in works for rural areas

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July 25, 2021 5:00 AM

According to sources, Trai will come up with a consultation paper soon to deliberate on the issues relating to digital inclusion as it believes that people in the rural areas and those in the low-income bracket may lag once 5G is launched and most of the services become digital.

5G telecom networkIt is not the first time that Trai would come out with a proposal on digital inclusion.

As mobile telephony is penetrating deeper by the day and becoming the medium for delivering more services, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) is working on a proposal to achieve three key objectives — connectivity, affordability of devices, and digital literacy.

According to sources, Trai will come up with a consultation paper soon to deliberate on the issues relating to digital inclusion as it believes that people in the rural areas and those in the low-income bracket may lag once 5G is launched and most of the services become digital.

According to the regulator, India has performed excessively well in achieving digital self-sufficiency and the country now has around 700 million wireless broadband users. Broadband services have reached the interior and less- developed parts of the country but when new technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), internet of things (IoT), augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) will gain prominence, some kind of support needs to be provided, so that these technologies do not remain confined to the urban centres.

According to an official, Trai’s paper will focus on providing connectivity to all with the help of affordable devices and making people digitally literate. Various government departments have to work together to achieve the objective of digital inclusion.

“In future, the country’s economy will be driven by technology and if people are not able to access the market because of lack of digital knowledge, they will be left behind. So, some kind of mechanism should be formulated to provide digital knowhow, so that they can access the market,” said an official. The government is already implementing a National Digital Literacy Mission (NDLM) scheme to impart IT training to 52.5 lakh people, including Anganwadi and ASHA workers and authorised ration dealers. The scheme’s mission is to train non-IT literate citizens become IT-literate so that they are able to actively and effectively participate in the democratic and developmental process to enhance their livelihood.

It must be mentioned that this is not the first time that Trai would come out with a proposal on digital inclusion. In 2016, the authority had made a proposal to give 100 MB free data to rural smartphone users in a month. It had then recommended utilisation of funds from the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) to provide free data, but the proposal could not be implemented.

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