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National Digital Communications Policy 2018: GoI gives big boost to new age technologies

At the current pace of digitalisation, India’s digital economy has the potential to reach one trillion USD by 2025, according to India's ministry of communication.

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The recently issued draft for the National Digital Communications Policy 2018 by the ministry of communications proposes many steps to facilitate a strong communications technology infrastructure in India. With the new policy, the government is targeting  investments worth 100 billion USD in the digital communications sector by 2022 with help of regulatory reforms.

"The policy recognises the importance of continued improvement in the regulatory framework for attracting investments and ensuring fair competition, to serve the needs of Indian citizens. Given the sector's capital-intensive nature, the policy aims to attract long-term, high quality and sustainable investments," the draft says.

Initiatives under National Digital Communications Policy 2018

  • National Broadband Mission – Rashtriya Broadband Abhiyan’ to secure universal broadband access.
  • 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.
  • Establishment of National Digital Grid and National Fibre Authority.
  • Encouraging innovative approaches to infrastructure creation and access including through resale and Virtual Network Operators (VNO).

With significantly advanced capabilities in both telecommunications and software, India stands poised to benefit from harnessing the new digital technologies and platforms more than most countries. At the current pace of digitalisation, it is estimated that India’s digital economy has the potential to reach one trillion USD by 2025, said the draft.

Expanding the fibre optic network to all corners of the country

India currently has an optical fibre cable network of approximately 1.5 million kilometers, and less than one-fourth of the towers are fiber-connected. In order to expand mobile and broadband connectivity across the country, the draft proposes to explore and utilize the opportunities presented by next-gen networks and other network access technologies including satellite communications. The ministry of communications plans 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 catalyze the fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0) by promoting investments and innovation. 

"While India has embarked on one of the world’s largest rural optic fibre roll-outs, aiming to connect 600,000 of its villages by broadband through its flagship initiative called ‘BharatNet’; the convergence of a cluster of revolutionary technologies including 5G, the cloud, IoT and data analytics, along with a growing start-up community, promise to accelerate and deepen its digital engagement, opening up a new horizon of opportunities. As the world prepares for what is increasingly being called as the fourth industrial revolution, India, and indeed every single sector of its economy, need to be readied to embrace this wave," states the policy draft. 

Emphasis on IoT technology
The ministry of communication plans to train and re-skill one million workers to build new age skills. The policy draft mentions the ministry's plan of expanding the IoT ecosystem to 5 billion connected devices by 2022. The policy draft stresses on accelerating the transition to Industry 4.0. To facilitate the plan, the ministry will simplify licensing and regulatory frameworks whilst ensuring appropriate security frameworks for IoT/ M2M / future services and network elements incorporating international best practices. The use of open APIs for emerging technologies will be encouraged.

The draft policy has also included clauses on ensuring sovereignty, safety and security of digital communications. The ministry of communications wants 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, according to the draft.