Govt unveils new telecom policy: 5G, robotics, artificial intelligence, 4 million jobs on agenda

The government on Tuesday came out with a new draft for telecom policy which aims to create a roadmap for emerging technologies such as 5G, artificial intelligence, robotics, internet of things, cloud computing and machine to machine communications. The draft which was released by the Department of Telecommunication or DoT has also laid out plans to create 4 million jobs, attract USD 100 billion foreign investment by 2022.

The telecom policy is put in place to give all states, central agencies and other key players like the telecom companies and even start-ups a general idea of what can be expected from the government in the coming years.

Among the goals that the DoT has set in the new draft are: increasing 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 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 and accelerate transition to industry 4.0.

To enter this grand scheme, the government also aims to streamline regulatory reforms and processes to make them relevant, transparent, accountable and forward-looking. According to the draft, these regulatory guidelines will also ensure better investments, innovations and consumer interest.

Recognising the need to uphold the core principles of net neutrality, the government plans to amend the ‘license agreements to incorporate the principles of non-discriminatory treatment of content, along with appropriate exclusions and exceptions as necessary’. It also seeks to introduce appropriate disclosure and transparency requirements to ensure compliance with net neutrality principles.

The government said that the new telecom policy seeks to unlock the transformative power of digital communications networks. To achieve this, it laid out strategic objectives that include ‘provisioning of broadband for all, enhancing the contribution of the Digital Communications sector to 8 per cent of India’s GDP from 6 per cent in 2017, propelling India to the top 50 nations in the ICT Development Index of ITU from 134 in 2017, enhancing India’s contribution to global value chains and ensuring digital sovereignty’.

The draft also addressed the heavy debt to the telecom sector and pledged help by reviewing license fees, spectrum usage charges, and universal service obligation fund levy, all of which add to cost of telecom services, under the new policy for enhancing ease of doing business in the sector.

The government has also set a goal to provide 1Gbps of internet speed to all gram panchayats in the country as early as 2020. This speed is expected to be enhanced to 10Gbps by year 2022.