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DoT addresses broadband issues in policy out for public consultation

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MUMBAI: The Indian government is exploring renaming/replacing the National Telecom Policy (NTP) 2018 as the National Digital Communications Policy, which will aim to have increased synergies amongst ministries of telecom, IT and I&B.

What the new draft policy, seeking public comments, does not look at is trying to make TRAI the converged regulator as had been suggested by TRAI in its feedback to the government on formulation of NTP 2018.

Some of the important recommendations are:

“Leveraging existing assets of the broadcasting and power sector to improve connectivity, affordability and sustainability”

“Strengthening Satellite Communication Technologies in India
(a) Review the regulatory regime for satellite communication technologies, including: 

i. Revising licensing and regulatory conditions that limit the use of satellite communications, such as speed barriers, band allocation, etc.
ii. Simplifying compliance requirements for VSAT operators to ensure faster roll out
iii. Expanding scope of permissible services under the Unified Licensing regime using High Throughput Satellite communication systems

(b) Optimise Satellite communications technologies in India, by: 

i. Reviewing SATCOM policy for communication services, along with Department of Space, keeping in view international developments and social and economic needs of the country
ii. Making available additional transponders and new spectrum bands (such as Ka band) for satellite-based commercial communication services
iii. Rationalizing satellite transponder, spectrum charges and charges payable to WPC
iv. Assessing the bandwidth demands across various spectrum bands used for satellite communications, in consultation with stakeholders
v. Prioritising international engagement with ITU on spectrum management issues, specifically with respect to satellite communications in India

(c) Develop an ecosystem for satellite communications in India, with focus on: 

i. Streamlining administrative processes for assignment and allocations, clearances and permissions related to satellite communication systems
ii. Promoting local manufacturing and development of satellite communications related infrastructure through appropriate policies
iii. Promoting participation of private players, with due regard to national security and sovereignty”

“Enabling Infrastructure Convergence of IT, telecom and broadcasting sectors:

i. Amending the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 and other relevant acts for the purpose of convergence in coordination with respective ministries
ii. Establishing a unified policy framework and spectrum management regime for broadcast and broadband technologies
iii. Restructuring of legal, licensing and regulatory frameworks for reaping the benefits of convergence”

“Enabling unbundling of different layers (e.g. infrastructure, network, services and applications layer) through differential licensing”

“Fostering an Intellectual Property Rights regime that promotes innovation, by:

i. Implementing key recommendations in the National IPR Policy pertaining to Digital Communications, including a review of the legal regime around copyright, patents and trade marks
ii. Assisting start-ups in filing copyright, patent and trademarks applications
iii. Providing financial incentives for the development of Standard Essential Patents (SEPs) in the field of digital communications technologies
iv. Promoting Indian IPR through international collaborations and active participation in standard development processes and IPR related events”

“Recognising the need to uphold the core principles of net neutrality:

i. Amending the license agreements to incorporate the principles of non-discriminatory treatment of content, along with appropriate exclusions and exceptions as necessary
ii. Ensuring compliance with net neutrality principles, by introducing appropriate disclosure and transparency requirements”

There are three aims- first is to connect India digitally, second is to propel India by using technologies like 5G, AI and IoT and third is to secure India which will enable the security of people’s privacy, security, data etc.

After the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal, the government will amend licences and terms and conditions to incorporate provisions for privacy and data security.

This apart, the government aims to establish five million public wi-fi spots by 2020 and 10 million by 2022. It will also amend the Indian Telegraph Act to converge IT, telecom and broadcasting sectors.

The government will re-look at the fees it levies at various places to enable investment of $100 billion in the digital communications sector. It will also revisit spectrum usage charges where telecom providers currently pay 3-6 per cent of adjusted gross revenue as fees. Licence fee is 8 per cent of the same.

The Telecom Commission has also accepted the recommendations of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India regarding a new framework for public data offices for setting up public wi-fi hotspots where people can purchase telecom or internet services in sachet-sized packets starting at Rs 2.

Also Read :

BSNL inks deals with SoftBank-backed OneWeb for satellite capacity 

DEN expands broadband services; plans Rs 100 cr capex

Zee, Star, NBA oppose converged regulator for broadcast and telecoms

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