New telecom policy soon

The government is likely to unveil a new national telecom policy later this month that aims to attract around $100 billion in investment by 2022, generate about 100 per cent teledensity and create around 2 million jobs.

By Jayanta Roy Chowdhury
  • Published 17.03.18
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New Delhi: The government is likely to unveil a new national telecom policy later this month that aims to attract around $100 billion in investment by 2022, generate about 100 per cent teledensity and create around 2 million jobs.

The policy also aims to bring in internet of things (IoT) in a big way and introduce 5G or high-speed mobile downloads throughout the country.

Top officials said the policy draft was being finalised based on a series of recommendations by telecom regulator Trai and would be placed before the cabinet soon.

Though the exact contours of the policy are kept under wraps, officials said some of the demands of telecom companies were also being considered, such as reduction in government levies and spectrum prices. At present, various levies account for 30 per cent of the revenues earned by telecom firms.

At the same time, the policy has to address issues related to IoT as the number of devices linked to the Internet is set to increase manifold following the Centre's smart city move.

"Security considerations will also grow, especially in view of the cyber-attacks globally which have been traced to or are suspected of being launched by one or the other nation," the officials added.

Cybersecurity architecture, the need to increase domestic manufacture of mobile phones, Internet products and the architecture which connects them will also be looked into by the policy.

An earlier policy unveiled in 2012 had set targets such as achieving 2mbps speed for customers, abolition of roaming charges across the country, simplifying network rollout issues and the formation of a national mobile property registry.

Officials, however, are skeptical whether the goals would be realistic given the huge levels of debt faced by the telecom firms and lack of enthusiasm among manufacturers to shift base to India.

The cumulative debt of the telecom industry stands at Rs 4.6 lakh crore.

Officials said with just under $6 billion coming in as FDI in telecom during the first half of the year, the task of raising $100 billion would be a tough call.

"We have to make telecom pricing more attractive by reducing the price of spectrum in the next round of auctions ... this means the auctions may have to be postponed till after the general elections. Also the disruption by Jio has to be addressed, or else attracting foreign investments will be tougher," said the officials.