- The National Digital Communications Policy, 2018 seeks to unlock the transformative power of digital communications networks to achieve the goal of digital empowerment and well-being of the people of India; and towards this end, attempts to outline a set of goals, initiatives, strategies and intended policy outcomes.
The National Communications Policy aims to accomplish the following Strategic Objectives by 2022:
1. Provisioning of Broadband for All
2. Creating 4 Million additional jobs in the Digital Communications sector
3. Enhancing the contribution of the Digital Communications sector to 8% of India’s GDP from ~ 6% in 2017
4. Propelling India to the Top 50 Nations in the ICT Development Index of ITU from 134 in 2017
5. Enhancing India’s contribution to Global Value Chains
6. Ensuring Digital Sovereignty
To fulfil the information and communication needs of citizens and enterprises by establishment of a ubiquitous, resilient, secure and affordable Digital Communications Infrastructure and Services; and in the process, support India’s transition to a digitally empowered economy and society.
In pursuit of accomplishing these objectives by year 2022, the National Digital Communications Policy, 2018 envisages three Missions:
1. Connect India: Creating Robust Digital Communications Infrastructure
To promote Broadband for All as a tool for socio-economic development, while ensuring service quality and environmental sustainability.
2. Propel India: Enabling Next Generation Technologies and Services through Investments, Innovation and IPR generation
To harness the power of emerging digital technologies, including 5G, AI, IoT, Cloud and Big Data to enable provision of future ready products and services; and to catalyse the fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0) by promoting Investments, Innovation and IPR.
3. Secure India: Ensuring Sovereignty, Safety and Security of Digital Communications
To secure the interests of citizens and safeguard the digital sovereignty of India with a focus on ensuring individual autonomy and choice, data ownership, privacy and security; while recognizing data as a crucial economic resource.
a. Provide Universal broadband coverage at 50 Mbps to every citizen
b. Provide 1 Gbps connectivity to all Gram Panchayats of India by 2020 and 10 Gbps by 2022
c. Enable 100 Mbps broadband on demand to all key development institutions; including all educational institutions
d. Enable fixed line broadband access to 50% of households
e. Achieve ‘unique mobile subscriber density’ of 55 by 2020 and 65 by 2022
f. Enable deployment of public Wi-Fi Hotspots; to reach 5 million by 2020 and 10 million by 2022
g. Ensure connectivity to all uncovered areas
- The task before India’s policy makers is to ensure that the advantages of the new technologies are accessible to all equitably and affordably, while securing them against existing and emerging threats.
- India needs to particularly ensure that its communications infrastructure supports the entire population, whose demographic profiles vary widely across various indices such as literacy, economic conditions and urbanisation.
- It is important for India to remain sensitive to these factors and promote policies that increase opportunitiesfor their social and economic development
- Digital infrastructure and services are increasingly emerging as the key enablers and critical determinants of a country’s growth and well-being
- India’s digital profile and footprint is one of the fastest growing in the world. With over a billion mobile phones and digital identities and half a billion internet users, India’s mobile data consumption is already the highest in the world.
- Over 200 million Indians regularly use social media and in the last year alone, over 200 million Indians took to mobile banking and digital payments. At the current pace of digitisation and digitalisation, it is estimated that India’s digital economy has the potential to reach one trillion USD by 2025.
Objective of National Digital Communications Policy, 2018:
- The objective of this document is to lay out a policy and principles framework that will enable creation of a vibrant competitive telecom market to strengthen India’s long term competitiveness and serve the needs of our aspiring nation.
- It has been broadly estimated that a 10% increase in broadband penetration in a country could potentially lead to an over 1% increase in GDP.
- However, studies in India estimate that the impact could be significantly higher for the country, given the increased productivity and efficiency gains that are likely to accrue to the economy.
- It is necessary to explore and utilise the opportunities presented by next generation-networks like 5G and other pioneering network access technologies including satellite communications.
- It would be critical to focus on fixed infrastructure development initiatives related to fibre deployment and Right of Way clearances that will form the bedrock of next generation technologies.
- Implementing a ‘Fibre First Initiative’ to take fibre to the home, to enterprises and to key development institutions in Tier I, II and III towns and to rural clusters.
Implementation of the broadband initiatives, to be funded through USOF and Public Private Partnerships:
i. BharatNet – Providing 1 Gbps to Gram Panchayats upgradeable to 10 Gbps
ii. GramNet – Connecting all key rural development institutions with 10 Mbps upgradeable to 100 Mbps
iii. NagarNet – Establishing 1 Million public Wi-Fi Hotspots in urban areas
iv. JanWiFi – Establishing 2 Million Wi-Fi Hotspots in rural areas
Secure India: Ensuring Digital Sovereignty, Safety and Security of Digital Communications
- 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.
Recognizing Spectrum as a key natural resource for public benefit to achieve India’s socio-economic goals, optimise availability and utilisation by:
- Making adequate spectrum available to be equipped for the new broadband era
- Transparent and fair mode of spectrum allocation by developing a fair, flexible, simple and transparent method for spectrum assignments and allocations
- Efficient spectrum utilisation and management
- Promoting Next Generation Access Technologies in India
- Regulatory regime for satellite communication technologies
- Optimise Satellite communications technologies in India
- Develop an ecosystem for satellite communications in India
- Ensuring Inclusion of uncovered areas and digitally deprived segments of society
- Ensuring Customer Satisfaction, Quality of Service and effective Grievance Redressal
- The job of a national policy on digital communications is to prepare the country and its citizens for the future.
- Achieving these goals would require that the key stakeholders – namely the Centre, the States, local governments, Telecom Service Providers, Internet Service Providers, handset and equipment manufacturers, the academic community, the innovators and start-ups come together to forge a coalition to deliver this national policy and missions.
- It is hoped that this policy will facilitate the unleashing of the creative energies of citizens, enterprises and institutions in India and play a seminal role in fulfilling the aspirations of all Indians for a better quality of life.