Deciphering National Digital Communications Policy 2018

The department of telecom on Tuesday put forth the new telecom policy. You can call it as National Telecom Policy 2018 or the way the Government has named it – National Digital Communications Policy 2018 or NDCP 2018. The latter name suits more as the policy framework for a government is no more limited to telecom only, as it encompasses many areas that build a country’s information and communication infrastructure. Besides telecommunication, the new telecom policy has tried to cover areas such as Internet of Things, M2M, Cloud Computing, 5G and electronics manufacturing. Not only that, the National Telecom Policy 2018 also includes guidelines for IPR, artificial intelligence, foreign investments, job creation and cyber and digital security.

Here is our attempt to simplify the draft National Digital Communications Policy.

National Digital Communications Policy 2018 : What It Wants To Achieve

The objective of the National Digital Communications Policy 2018 is to prepare the country and its citizens for the future from a communications technology point of view. The framework of the policy is expected to help the citizens in enjoying the power of digital communications networks. The strategic objectives of the policy include :

  • Availability of broadband for all
  • Creating 40 lakh additional jobs in digital communications sector
  • Increasing digital communication sector’s GDP contribution to 8% from current 6%
  • To take India to the Top 50 nations in ITU ICT Development Index from 134 in 2017
  • Enhancing India’s contribution in Global digital value chain
  • Ensuring digital sovereignty

These objectives are set by the Government in the new Digital Communications Policy 2018 to be achieved by 2022. So, how does the Government of India plans to achieve this? It has a three prong strategy.

Connect India : The aim of the Connect India strategy is to create a robust digital communication infrastructure for the country where the entire country can be connected. This will be achieved by using ‘Broadband for All’ as a tool, means, availability of high speed broadband connectivity for each and every citizen of the country. This strategy aims to :

  • Provide Universal broadband coverage at 50 Mbps to every citizen
  • Provide 1 Gbps connectivity to all Gram Panchayats of India by 2020 and 10 Gbps by
  • Enable 100 Mbps broadband on demand to all key development institutions; including
    all educational institutions
  • Enable fixed line broadband access to 50% of households
  • Achieve ‘unique mobile subscriber density’ of 55 by 2020 and 65 by 2022
  • Enable deployment of public Wi-Fi Hotspots; to reach 5 million by 2020 and 10
    million by 2022
  • Ensure connectivity to all uncovered areas

Propel India : The government believes it will not be enough if just a robust communications network is provided. The country should make bigger strides towards the newer technologies including 5G, IoT, AI, Cloud and other next generation technologies. And to achieve that the country needs more investment in those areas and intellectual property rights should obtained in every aspect of the ne technologies and solutions. The strategy aims to :

  • Attract investments of USD 100 Billion in the Digital Communications Sector
  • Increase India’s contribution to Global Value Chains
  • Creation of innovation led Start-ups in Digital Communications sector
  • Creation of Globally recognized IPRs in India
  • Development of Standard Essential Patents (SEPs) in the field of digital
    communication technologies
  • Train/ Re-skill 1 Million manpower for building New Age Skills
  • Expand IoT ecosystem to 5 Billion connected devices
  • Accelerate transition to Industry 4.0

Secure India : The third aspect of the policy is securing the nation from a digital and cyber network point of view. It is often said the next war would not fought on land, water or air but on a virtual space, and securing a country’s digital infrastructure, will be paramount. This aspect of the policy aims to :

  • Establish a comprehensive data protection regime for digital communications that safeguards the privacy, autonomy and choice of individuals and facilitates India’s effective participation in the global digital economy
  • Ensure that net neutrality principles are upheld and aligned with service requirements, bandwidth availability and network capabilities including next generation access technologies
  • Develop and deploy robust digital communication network security frameworks
  • Build capacity for security testing and establish appropriate security standards
  • Address security issues relating to encryption and security clearances
  • Enforce accountability through appropriate institutional mechanisms to assure citizens of safe and secure digital communications infrastructure and services

The National Digital Communications Policy 2018 is at a ‘draft’ stage and has been made public so that the stakeholders of the industry including service providers, equipment manufacturers, academia and experts can share their comments, feedback and observation on the same. We will bring out more stories on how the government plans to achieve the above goals.

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