New Digital Communications Policy aims to provide broadband access to all citizens by 2022
• The Union Cabinet recently approved the National Digital Communications Policy 2018 (NDCP-2018) to replace the existing National Telecom Policy-2012, and re-designation of the Telecom Commission as the “Digital Communications Commission (DCC)”.
• It has three major missions named Connect India, Propel India and Secure India which it aims to achieve by 2022.
Why Need arose for new Digital Communications Policy:
Due to pivotal significance of Indian Telecom sector for the inclusive growth of the nation as briefly explained below:
• Changing Telecom Landscape: The present world has entered into the era of modern technological advancements in the Telecom Sector such as 5G, Internet of Things (loT), Machine to Machine communication, Artificial Intelligence and Big Data Analytics.
• Digital Communications is emerging as an enabler and a keystone sector for all other segment of business.
• Large Size of Indian Telecom Market:
- India is the world’s 2nd largest telecommunications market, with over 1.17 billion subscribers as of June 2018.
- During FY17-18, wireless subscriptions witnessed a Compounded Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 19.62% to reach 1,183.41 million subscriebrs.
- India is also the 2nd largest country in terms of internet subscribers with 512.26 million internet subscribers, as of June 2018.
- The country is now the world’s 2nd largest smartphone market and will have almost one billion unique mobile subscribers by 2020.
The overall objectives of the policy, to be achieved by 2022, are:
• Broadband for all to ensure Digital Sovereignty.
• Creating four million additional jobs in the Digital Communications sector.
• Enhancing the contribution of the Digital Communications sector to 8% of India’s GDP from ~ 6% in 2017
• Propelling India to the Top 50 Nations in the ICT Development Index of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) from 134 in 2017.
• Enhancing India’s contribution to Global Value Chains.
Specific Aims of the NDCP Policy 2018:
• Provide universal broadband connectivity at 50 Mbps to every citizen;
• Provide 1 Gbps connectivity to all Gram Panchayats by 2020 and 10 Gbps by 2022;
• Attract investments of USD 100 billion in the Digital Communications Sector;
• Train one million manpower for building New Age Skill;
• Expand IoT ecosystem to 5 billion connected devices,
• Establish a comprehensive data protection regime for digital communications that safeguards the privacy, autonomy and choice of individuals.
The policy also suggests the strategy by which these aims are to be achieved. They are briefly given below:
• Establishment of a National Digital Grid by creating a National Fibre Authority;
• Establishing Common Service Ducts and utility corridors in all new city and highway road projects;
• Creating a collaborative institutional mechanism between Centre, States and Local Bodies for Common Rights of Way, standardization of costs and timelines;
• Removal of barriers to approvals; and
• Facilitating development of Open Access Next Generation Networks
With continuous expansion of India as a knowledge driven economy, ‘customer focused’ and ‘application driven’ policy for the Indian Telecom Sector, which can form the main pillar of Digital India has become the need of the hour.
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU)
• It is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) that is responsible for issues that concern information and communication technologies.
• It publishes a Global index called the “Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Development Index” to measure the digital divide and compare ICT performance
within and across countries.
• The ICT Development Index is based on 11 ICT indicators, grouped in three clusters: information access, Information use and requisite skills capital available within a nation.