Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has now congratulated the Department of Telecom (DoT) for introducing the draft National Digital Communications Policy 2018. If the things mentioned in the new telecom policy gets implemented, COAI things that it will usher in the new era of telecom revolution in the country by making telecom and digital services accessible to everyone and will also bring in the much-needed relief to the industry. “It is comprehensive, focused, lucid sets clear strategic goals and is clearly what is required to propel India as a key player in the global knowledge revolution. The long-awaited policy will now be put forward for discussion among the stakeholders and will be given a final shape to guide the evolution of telecom industry in the country,” said COAI in the statement.
The new policy will pave the way for the development of telecom and digital services in the country. It will also help create 40 lakh new jobs, which in turn will improve the skill set among the people employed in the telecom sector, added the industry association. The policy has addressed the long pending concerns of the telecom industry by proposing to review and rationalise various taxes and levies including license fees, spectrum usage charges and the universal service obligation fund, GST etc., as we mentioned earlier today.
Also, COAI believes that the proposed investment of USD 100 billion in the communication industry will help increase the contribution of telecom sector in the GDP from 6 to 8%. “To propel the development of the country with the use of next-generation technology through investment, the policy proposes attract investments of USD 100 billion in the digital communications sector by 2022 with the help of regulatory reforms,” it further added.
In this regard, the industry had suggested for allowing tax-free bonds for the telecom sector. The industry had also recommended that the telecom/telecom infrastructure industry should also be made eligible for access to long-term and low-cost debt to be provided by infrastructure debt funds and also establishment of Telecom Finance Corporation (TFC)/infrastructure bank to provide loans at preferred rates to telecom companies. COAI assumes that these issues will also be addressed in this policy.
The new policy also recognises spectrum as a natural resource and therefore sets tasks of ensuring adequate availability, efficient usage and putting together a fair and transparent allocation method for service providers. Having taken cognisance of the steep cost of spectrum, the policy has also suggested for adopting optimal pricing to ensure sustainable and affordable access to digital communication.
It also proposes to recognise mid-band spectrum, particularly the 3 GHz to 24 GHz range, for next-generation networks. The policy also outlined the roadmap for the high in demand backhaul spectrum for transmitting signals between mobile towers in E & V band as per international best practices. The E & V bands need to be allocated at the earliest to the telecom operators having access spectrum.
The draft policy, which was released yesterday, has also prescribed for ensuring a holistic and harmonised approach for harnessing emerging technologies by creating a roadmap for 5G, AI, robotics, IoT, cloud computing and M2M.