New telecom policy to usher in new era for communications sector: FICCI

Telecom

The draft of the new telecom policy released by the government indicates it may usher in a new era for India’s communications sector with a forward-looking and technology-friendly regulatory environment, industry body FICCI said. The draft, dubbed the ‘National Digital Communications Policy 2018’, was unveiled on May 1. It aims to provide broadband coverage at 50 megabit per second to every citizen, attract US$ 100 billion investment in the sector and create 40 lakh jobs by 2022. In a statement, FICCI said it hopes that the policy will be ready for announcement by the monsoon session of Parliament this year.

“The draft Policy is a consultation-based, well-considered document which addresses nearly all issues in the communications sector, such as licensing and regulatory reforms, reduction of costs, review of Universal Service Obligation Fund, augmentation of telecom infrastructure, new technologies such as 5G, IoT and AI etc,” FICCI said.

The chamber observed that the draft policy is a timely step towards a rethink on the overall development and direction of the sector, keeping in mind the interest of the Indian citizen, considering the rapidly changing landscape of the country’s information and communication technology sector.

The draft policy proposes to address woes of the debt ridden telecom sector by reviewing licence fees, spectrum usage charges and universal service obligation fund levy, all of which add to cost of telecom services, under the new policy for enhancing ease of doing business in the sector. FICCI said it was invited to provide inputs specifically in the area of ‘licensing reforms’ and the FICCI-ICT and Digital Economy Committee engaged in a six-month process with members to submit detailed recommendations in January 2018.

The chamber said it will work through its members to join deliberations and provide further inputs as the policy is brought to its final form. The draft policy proposes to rationalise taxes and levies on digital communications equipment, infrastructure and services.