Speedy implementation of NDCP will bridge digital divide between rural Bharat and urban India : Manoj Sinha

• DoT, TRAI and Telecom Industry affirm staunch Collaboration to unlock value from speedy and impactful implementation of NDCP 2018
New Delhi, November 18, 2018 Speedy implementation of NDCP (National Digital Communications Policy 2018) will help bridge the existing digital divide between rural Bharat and urban India and we can transform lives of all 1.3 billion citizens of India by delivering a Digital Future to All, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Communications, Manoj Sinha said at an ASSOCHAM event held in New Delhi.
Speaking on the occasion, Manoj Sinha, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Communications and Minister of State for Railways said that the Telecom sector is the pivotal force driving India’s digital transformation. Surge in data consumption and the rapid adoption of new technologies continue to re-define connectivity and digital engagement dynamics in India. As the largest data consumer and the second largest smartphone market, India is carving a new digital identity globally, said Sinha while inaugurating an ‘ASSOCHAM 11th Telecom India here at New Delhi.
Government led initiatives like the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, which is the world’s largest financial inclusion programme, the recently launched Ayushman Bharat scheme, which is the largest social health insurance scheme in the world, Smart Cities Mission, National Skill Development Mission, Digital India, Make In India, etc. are today catering to the needs of all the sections of our society. It is now critical to maintain the developmental momentum by strengthening the telecom sector, a core enabler for the socio economic progress of the country, said Sinha.
Smt. Aruna Sundararajan, Secretary, Ministry of Communications, DoT, and Chairperson, Telecom Commission said, “The newly announced National Digital Communications Policy 2018 (the Policy) seeks to propel India to digital leadership and support India’s transition to a digitally empowered economy and society by fulfilling the information and communication needs of citizens and enterprises by establishing a ubiquitous, resilient and affordable digital communications infrastructure that will help India become a trillion-dollar economy. The Policy seeks to attract US$100 billion in investments over the next four years and to create four million additional jobs, enhancing the contribution of the digital communications sector to 8% of India’s GDP and propel India to the Top 50 Nations in the ITU ICT Development Index.
Given the critical role of the policy and its execution, we are happy to engage with industry stakeholders to drive the policy objectives and its speedy execution,” added Ms. Sundararajan.
R S Sharma, Chairman, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India said, Telecommunications is the backbone for achieving the desired digital transformation and future technologies like 5G, big data analytics, cloud, Internet of Things (IoT) and machine to machine (M2M) will play a key role in implementing the digital India vision. Investments in 4G and beyond and quick adoption of and adaption to technology changes, artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, virtual reality (VR) will yield quantum benefits. Leveraging these technologies will also dovetail into key government initiatives such as smart cities and Make in India. The stimulating discussions today with all stakeholders will provide impetus to policy implementation”
P. Balaji, Chairman of ASSOCHAM National Council on Telecommunications & Convergence said, “The NDCP 2018 is a progressive, holistic and forward-looking policy. It is designed to empower Indian telecom to fulfil its designated role of being the critical enabler to achieve the larger vision of a truly Digital India and rightly considers all aspects vital for the development and growth of the sector. It is focused on making the sector financially strong and sustainable with requisite reforms of costs and levies, sets forth aspirational goals and provides much needed impetus for light-touch, technology friendly framework to usher in new technologies such as 5G, IoT and AI etc. It emphasizes on the need to build a state-of-the-art telecom and digital infrastructure and recognizes it as essential as roads, railways etc. for India’s development. Following the rich deliberations today, in which challenges facing the telecom industry have also been acknowledged in addition to growth opportunities, we look forward to more open dialogues, constructive partnering, and speedy, effective and efficient implementation of all provisions of NDCP 2018. This will boost investor sentiment and create a robust, sustainable telecom industry that can serve Govt. vision and meet citizen expectations.”
Uday Kumar Varma, Secretary General, ASSOCHAM said, a robust broadband infrastructure to provide seamless backbone connectivity will be critical to unleash M2M potential in India. With the second largest mobile subscriber base in the world and over 1.21 billion mobile phone connections, India is the largest consumer of data globally, surpassing China, USA and Japan. India has also become the second largest market for smartphones in the world, with over 456 million smart phone users. LTE capable devices have touched 218 million. Last year 9 out of 10 smartphones sold were 4G capable. Over 100 major global smartphone brands are present in the Indian market.
Prashant Singhal, Emerging Markets TMT Leader, EY said, “The NDCP 2018 is a progressive policy that aims to attract US$100 billion investment in the digital communications sector by 2022. The digital economy in India is well poised to reach a trillion-dollar in the next three to five years, riding on the pro-growth initiatives of the government. The deliberations during the day have been exciting. I am sure that a collaborative effort among all stakeholders will help to fast-track policy implementation to accelerate the Honourable Prime Minister’s Digital India vision.”
The National Digital Communications Policy 2018 (NDCP) envisions powering India’s transition to a digitally empowered economy and society with resilient and affordable digital communications infrastructure and services. It empowers the Indian telecom sector to fulfil its designated role of being the critical enabler for achieving the larger vision of a truly Digital India by considering all aspects vital for the development and growth of the sector to deliver connectivity for all amidst an evolving landscape of convergence across technologies and platforms. Building on its core of Connect India, Propel India and Secure India, NDCP endeavours to orbit India to digital leadership and a trillion-dollar economy.

The ASSOCHAM-EY joint study
 outlines immediate interventions and medium to long term considerations required to implement the vision and strategy of NDCP 2018. This study assesses the need for future ready infrastructure and collaborative efforts required to expedite digitally secure universal connectivity to the citizens. Some of the key recommendations in the study for Connect India include fast-tracking approvals and rationalising costs for Right-of-Way (RoW) to promote ease of installing telecom infrastructure, availability of adequate backhaul spectrum (E and V bands), and provide incentives for rollout and sharing of telecom infrastructure. Fiber will be critical for strengthening networks and backhaul. There is a need to create a common duct policy for deploying telecom infrastructure and enhance the scope of IP-I providers.
For a sector in distress, rationalization of license fees, taxes and levies will be important to promote investments, revive the financial health and harness emerging technologies. Moreover, a light-touch approach for levying penalties on minor shortcomings and simplifying existing procedure for grant of licenses should be adhered to. According essential infrastructure status to telecom will help promote ease of doing business, along with strengthening IPR framework. The study, highlighting the importance of securing India, recommends a balance between data protection and innovation that keeps citizens data secure and protected.
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