New Telecom Policy Is Clearly What India Needed : COAI DG Rajan Mathews

The department of telecom on 1 May brought out the new telecom policy for India. The policy, named as National Digital Communications Policy 2018, is currently at a ‘draft’ stage and sought feedback and comments from industry stakeholders.

COAI or Cellular operators’ association of India plays a big role in upholding the interests of the Indian telecom industry, among others, by helping in framing in policy guidelines. Here is what Rajan Mathews, Director General of COAI feels about the new telecom policy.

COAI congratulates the Department of Telecom (DoT) for introducing the draft National Digital Communications Policy 2018. It is comprehensive, focused, lucid sets clear strategic goals and is clearly what is required to propel India as a key player in the global knowledge revolution. The long-awaited policy will now be put forward for discussion among the stakeholders and will be given a final shape to guide the evolution of telecom industry in the country.

The new telecom policy will pave the way for development of telecom and digital services in the country. It will also help create 40 lakh new jobs, which in turn will improve skill set among the people employed in the telecom sector.

The policy has addressed the long pending concerns of the telecom industry by proposing to review and rationalise various taxes and levies including license fees, spectrum usage charges and the universal service obligation fund, GST etc.

The proposed investment of USD 100 billion in the communication industry will help increase the contribution of telecom sector in the GDP from 6 to 8 percent. To propel development of the country with use of next generation technology through investment, the policy proposes attract investments of USD 100 billion in the digital communications sector by 2022 with help of regulatory reforms.

Also Read : Deciphering New Telecom Policy 2018

In this regard, industry had suggested for allowing tax-free bonds for telecom sector. The industry had also recommended that the telecom/telecom infrastructure industry should also be made eligible for access to long-term and low cost debt to be provided by infrastructure debt funds and also establishment of Telecom Finance Corporation (TFC)/infrastructure bank to provide loans at preferred rates to telecom companies. Hope these issues will also be addressed in this policy as well.

The new policy recognises spectrum as a natural resource and therefore sets tasks of ensuring adequate availability, efficient usage and putting together a fair and transparent allocation method for service providers. Having taken cognizance of the steep cost of spectrum, the policy has also suggested for adopting optimal pricing to ensure sustainable and affordable access to digital communication.

It also proposes to recognise mid-band spectrum, particularly the 3 GHz to 24 GHz range, for next-generation networks. The new telecom policy also outlined roadmap for high in demand backhaul spectrum for transmitting signals between mobile towers in E & V band as per international best practices. The E & V bands need to be allocated at the earliest to the telecom operators having access spectrum.

New draft policy proposes extending incentives and exemptions for the construction of telecom towers and provide for accelerated Rights of Way permissions for telecom towers in government premises. This also includes the promotion of solar and green energy for telecom towers.

The draft policy has also prescribed for ensuring a holistic and harmonized approach for harnessing emerging technologies by creating roadmap for 5G, AI, robotics, IoT, cloud computing and M2M.

We believe these steps will usher in the new era of telecom revolution in the country by making telecom and digital services accessible to everyone and will also bring in the much needed relief to the industry.”

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