The recently released draft of the new telecom policy is generating quite a buzz already. Not without a reason!
The ambitious Draft National Digital Communications Policy 2018 endeavors to generate 40 lakh new jobs by 2022, draw $100 billion foreign funds into the telecom sector and provide broadband speeds of 50 Mbps for all Indians. The draft released by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) also aims to provide a guideline for the upcoming technologies including cloud computing, 5G, Artificial Intelligence (AI), robotics and Machine-to-Machine communication (M2M) among others.
The draft new telecom policy policy has mentioned a few objectives, which the government aims to accomplish by 2022. A key among these is Connect India, which targets to provide high-speed data connectivity to people to all sections of society, irrespective of their economic status. Second is Propel India which is being launched with the aim to leverage the new age technologies for overall growth of digital communications in the country. The third pillar is Secure India, which intends to protect the digital sovereignty of the nation with a focus on ensuring data protection, data ownership, privacy, and safety.
The new digital policy also aims to install 5 lakh public Wi-Fi Hotspots by 2020 and one crore by 2022 through a National Broadband Mission. The central government plans to provide 1Gbps of internet speed to all Gram Panchayats in the country by 2020.
How Can Service Providers Meet The Policy Objectives?
With such diverse objectives, it is understandable that the telecom companies are in a fix. It is not that the service providers are not prepared for the new changes in the government policy, but the fact of the matter is, that the sector itself is witnessing troubled times. The sector is under a huge debt and a number of merger and acquisition deals have further put a stress on the industry.
The industry association of mobile service providers, telecom equipment, internet and broadband services providers in India, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) states that the sector has already spent over Rs 9 lakh crore, and it is now further burdened with a debt of more than Rs 4.5 lakh crore.
As if that wasn’t enough, significant CapEx spend is required to meet the target of Connect India. According to an estimate by the COAI, the industry further needs to invest more than Rs 2-3 lakh crore in next few years to achieve the target of connecting the country. Perhaps the Government can look at measures to rationalise taxes and charges on communications equipment, services and infrastructure.
At the same time, there is little doubt that the industry has to explore new and innovative technology approaches and concepts to attain the goals of draft National Digital Communications Policy. In this regard, virtualisation might play a crucial role in helping the industry to meet the target of the draft policy. Globally, the service providers are using virtualization to bring down the cost of managing the network. It significantly brings down the cost of network deployment and management.
Further, the telcos save on energy bills by building virtual platforms and networks. Since these technologies are software centric they allow the service providers to add agility and flexibility to the network. The Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) make it easier for the telcos to come up with newer products faster in keeping with the changing market demands. Besides, the software-driven technology makes it easier to transition from one technology to another or to efficiently maintain a multi-technology network.
This technology enhances the capacity consumption of servers, in some cases 80-85% as compared to 10-15%. So, not only it is more energy efficient, but also saves space. This also enables the companies to be flexible for experimenting with new technologies and also adapting themselves according to the preference of the customers.
The new telecom policy will have a far-reaching impact on the industry and will define the nature of the Indian telecom sector in the coming few years. Now it is up to the telecom service providers and other industry stakeholders to explore new and innovative technologies to successfully realize the vision of the Policy.
By : Rajesh Mishra, Co-founder, President and CTO, Parallel Wireless