Draft NTP 2018 focuses on physical to digital infrastructure transition

Telecom

The national telecom policy in works will focus on complete transition of the country from physical to digital infrastructure, with norms to push availability of high speed and uninterrupted broadband services in mission mode, according to government sources. The Draft National Telecom Policy 2018, slated for release on May 1, is likely to come up with framework for indigenisation of all the technologies in the broadband ecosystem to be used in the country and create 40 lakh new jobs in the sector. The policy in works is likely to propose higher weightage to products and equipments that have been developed and manufactured locally with intellectual property rights residing in India for public procurement purposes.

“The NTP 2018 is being drafted to implement Digital India vision of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in totality. The policy will see massive transition of the country from use of physical infrastructure to digital. There is proposal to have National Broadband Mission (NBM) with objective to put India at par with developed nation in ICT development index,” an official source said.

India at present is ranked 134th in information and communications technology (ICT) development index. “NBM will focus on providing high speed broadband connectivity for all with massive optical fibre network across the country. All social economic institutions like police stations, hospitals, schools etc in rural area will be connected by government under new NTP. The policy is being designed to leverage potential of telecom sector as a key enabler for other infrastructure sector including health, education, railways, roads etc,” the source said.

The officer added that Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha wants roll out of 5G in country at par with other countries. “Therefore the NTP 2018 is proposed to have enabling guidelines to create entire ecosystem to support 5G. NBM will chart out roadmap to develop uninterrupted broadband service for mission critical application like robotic surgery in rural area. There will be proposals to encourage use of big data, artificial intelligence, machine-to-machine communication in the draft,” the source said.

The officer said that spectrum harmonisation across several bands will be proposed for deployment of wireless broadband, and satellite connectivity will be used for connecting locations with tough terrains. Globally commercial 5G services area expected to be rolled out in countries like South Korea and US by end of 2019 or mid-2020. “There will be focus on indigenisation of technologies. Phase Manufacturing Programme will be extended for telecom equipments and products. Also, products having IPR residing in India and manufactured indigenously after research and development activity carried out locally will be given weightage,” the source said.

The NTP proposes to strengthen public sector units like BSNL, MTNL, ITI, TCIL by giving them larger role to pay in achieving objectives envisaged under it. “There are proposals around further enhancing of ease of business in the telecom sector,” the officer said without disclosing further details. Both Sinha and telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan have said earlier that the government will look at positioning the telecom sector primarily as an enabler to boost the economy rather than a revenue earner under the new NTP.