Insights into Editorial: Draft National Digital Communications Policy – 2018

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Insights into Editorial: Draft National Digital Communications Policy – 2018


 

 

Context:

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has released draft of new Telecom policy – National Digital Communications Policy, 2018. The policy seeks to unlock transformative power of digital communications networks to achieve the goal of digital empowerment and well-being of the people of India.

 

National Digital Communications Policy, 2018:

The National Digital Communications Policy, 2018 seeks to unlock the transformative power of digital communications networks to achieve the goal of digital empowerment and well-being of the people of India; and towards this end, attempts to outline a set of goals, initiatives, strategies and intended policy outcomes.

The National Communications Policy aims to accomplish the following Strategic Objectives by 2022:
1. Provisioning of Broadband for All

2. Creating 4 Million additional jobs in the Digital Communications sector
3. Enhancing the contribution of the Digital Communications sector to 8% of India’s GDP from ~ 6% in 2017
4. Propelling India to the Top 50 Nations in the ICT Development Index of ITU from 134 in 2017
5. Enhancing India’s contribution to Global Value Chains
6. Ensuring Digital Sovereignty

 

Time to make Digitally Empowered India:

The task before India’s policy makers is to ensure that the advantages of the new technologies are accessible to all equitably and affordably, while securing them against existing and emerging threats.

India needs to particularly ensure that its communications infrastructure supports the entire population, whose demographic profiles vary widely across various indices such as literacy, economic conditions and urbanisation.

It is important for India to remain sensitive to these factors and promote policies that increase opportunities for their social and economic development

Digital infrastructure and services are increasingly emerging as the key enablers and critical determinants of a country’s growth and well-being

India’s digital profile and footprint is one of the fastest growing in the world. With over a billion mobile phones and digital identities and half a billion internet users, India’s mobile data consumption is already the highest in the world.

Over 200 million Indians regularly use social media and in the last year alone, over 200 million Indians took to mobile banking and digital payments. At the current pace of digitisation and digitalisation, it is estimated that India’s digital economy has the potential to reach one trillion USD by 2025.

 

Objective of National Digital Communications Policy, 2018:

The objective of this document is to lay out a policy and principles framework that will enable creation of a vibrant competitive telecom market to strengthen India’s long term competitiveness and serve the needs of our aspiring nation.

It has been broadly estimated that a 10% increase in broadband penetration in a country could potentially lead to an over 1% increase in GDP.

However, studies in India estimate that the impact could be significantly higher for the country, given the increased productivity and efficiency gains that are likely to accrue to the economy.

It is necessary to explore and utilise the opportunities presented by next generation-networks like 5G and other pioneering network access technologies including satellite communications.

It would be critical to focus on fixed infrastructure development initiatives related to fibre deployment and Right of Way clearances that will form the bedrock of next generation technologies.

Implementing a ‘Fibre First Initiative’ to take fibre to the home, to enterprises and to key development institutions in Tier I, II and III towns and to rural clusters.

 

Implementation of the broadband initiatives, to be funded through USOF and Public Private Partnerships:
i. BharatNet – Providing 1 Gbps to Gram Panchayats upgradeable to 10 Gbps
ii. GramNet – Connecting all key rural development institutions with 10 Mbps upgradeable to 100 Mbps
iii. NagarNet – Establishing 1 Million public Wi-Fi Hotspots in urban areas
iv. JanWiFi – Establishing 2 Million Wi-Fi Hotspots in rural areas

 

 

Secure India: Ensuring Digital Sovereignty, Safety and Security of
Digital Communications 2022 Goals:

  • Establish a comprehensive data protection regime for digital communications that safeguards the privacy, autonomy and choice of individuals and facilitates India’s effective participation in the global digital economy.

 

  • Ensure that net neutrality principles are upheld and aligned with service requirements, bandwidth availability and network capabilities including next generation access technologies.

 

  • Develop and deploy robust digital communication network security frameworks.

 

  • Build capacity for security testing and establish appropriate security standards.

 

  • Address security issues relating to encryption and security clearances.

 

  • Enforce accountability through appropriate institutional mechanisms to assure citizens of safe and secure digital communications infrastructure and services.

 

Conclusion:

The job of a national policy on digital communications is to prepare the country and its citizens for the future.

Achieving these goals would require that the key stakeholders – namely the Centre, the States, local governments, Telecom Service Providers, Internet Service Providers, handset and equipment manufacturers, the academic community, the innovators and start-ups come together to forge a coalition to deliver this national policy and missions.

It is hoped that this policy will facilitate the unleashing of the creative energies of citizens, enterprises and institutions in India and play a seminal role in fulfilling the aspirations of all Indians for a better quality of life.