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Industry bodies are all-praise for the new draft national digital communications policy

Spectrum

After the much-awaited draft of the new telecom policy, or as it was renamed national digital communication policy was released earlier this week, the telecom industry seems to have a positive response to it. Two large industry bodies, Cellular Operator Association of India (COAI) and Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) have issued statements responding to the new policy.

While the IAMAI called it ambitious and socially relevant, COAI said the policy was comprehensive and set clear strategic goals.

The new policy has laid out provisions for lowering industry cost in form of spectrum charges, rationalisation of tax on services, equipment and infrastructure and for simplifying the procedure of licensing. Other specific additions to the policy promote the ease of doing business.

In response to the draft document, COAI said in a statement yesterday that the new policy will pave the way for the development of telecom and digital services in the country. It will also help create 40 lakh new jobs, which in turn will improve the skill set among the people employed in the telecom sector, COAI added.

“To propel the development of the country with the use of next-generation technology through investment, the policy proposes attract investments of US $100 billion in the digital communications sector by 2022 with the help of regulatory reforms,” COAI further said.

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Some of the other goals set by the draft policy include increasing the contribution of digital communications sector in India’s GDP from 6% currently to 8% by 2022. According to IAMAI, “It is a very ambitious policy and even if five of these targets are met by 2022, then it would have made significant contribution of the digital economy.”

The policy was not equally well-received by all though. The Financial Express said the policy was of no use, and that it fell short of all parameters. The paper criticise the goal to attract $100 million investment in the sector, saying that “when a cash-strapped industry is finding it difficult to invest more than $10 billion a year right now, the policy talks of attracting $100 billion in another four years.” The paper continued, “Clearly, as in the case of the 700 MHz auction, the policy is looking at what the government wants to sell spectrum at, not what telcos can afford.”

The new draft named national digital communication policy was released on May 1. 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. Read more on what it entails here, here and here.

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