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What’s new in the new draft national digital communications policy?

The Department of Telecommunication (DoT) of the Ministry of Communication has released the first draft of the new National Telecom Policy, which has been named National Digital Communication Policy this time, marking a clear shift in focus toward digital infrastructure and services. The draft policy includes some crucial changes such as formation of a telecom ombudsman, setting up public-private partnership projects for broadband expansion, and some key policy changes in spectrum, tower and approval policies. This policy, once approved and adopted, will replace the National Telecom Policy 2012, which was focused on providing affordable and quality telecommunication services in rural and remote areas. The DoT will take responses from stakeholders and the public, and possibly make amendments to the draft before it is approved. Here are some key highlights: Broadband Expanding broadband connectivity has been given high weightage in the policy, as it directs the establishment of a National Broadband Mission with a specific goal of universal broadband access. Under this mission, there are four initiatives (BharatNet, GramNet, NagarNet, JanWiFi), of which three drive rural connectivity, and NagarNet for urban broadband. The projects will be run through public private partnerships and will be funded by DoT’s Universal Service Obligation Fund. Fibre First Initiative: Under this, Telecom Optic Fibre cables will be given the status of a public utility. The initiative will focus of building shared duct infrastructure, fiberisation of 60% tower base stations and leveraging broadcasting and power sector assets for the process. The initiative also plans to mandate telecom…

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