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Draft National Telecom Policy on way

Author: PTI/Friday, April 27, 2018/Categories: Telecom

Draft National Telecom Policy on way

New Delhi - The government is likely to release the draft of new National Telecom Policy (NTP) on May 1 to seek public comments, Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan said today.

"The direction of the new policy, that we hope you will see as early as on May 1, will be reform-oriented. It will be investor friendly and bring down the cost of compliances," she said at the Annual General Meeting of US industry body Amcham.

She mentioned that the proposed NTP 2018 will be placed for public comments for 15-20 days.

"It (NTP) will hopefully trigger innovation, will focus on Make in India and provide opportunities for partnering with lot of companies,"Sundararjan said.

After the public comments, the Department of Telecom (DoT) will start inter-ministerial consultation on the policy and thereafter approach the Cabinet for final approval, she said.

The NTP 2018 is expected to present a growth road map of the Indian telecom sector, which is reeling under debt of around Rs 7.8 lakh crore, for a period of next five years.

Telecom operators have demanded that the government lower spectrum usage charges, licence fees and other levies on the sector to make business viable.

The Economic Survey 2017-18 had mentioned that the telecom sector is going through stress due to a huge debt pile, tariff war and irrational spectrum costs and called for policy measures to minimise over-bidding of assets during auctions.

The survey said auctions in case of spectrum as also coal and renewables led to transparency and avoided rent-seeking, although they “may have led to a winners' curse, whereby firms overbid for assets, leading to adverse consequences in each of the sector”.

It suggested that the “policy design must minimise these costs wherever possible. More specifically, there should be greater reliance on using incentives and carrots than on sticks”.

Sundararajan had said earlier that the government will look at positioning the telecom sector primarily as an enabler to boost the economy rather than a revenue earner under the new NTP.

DoT has held various round of discussions with stakeholders in all the field of sector for the policy.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has recommended road map for NTP 2018 that should be able to address global requirements and attract investments of about USD 100 billion by 2022.

It has suggested that the NTP 2018 should facilitate ease of doing business through simplification of licensing and regulatory frameworks, rationalisation of taxes, levies and related compliances, and facilitating availability of resources, including spectrum.

Trai recommended that under the new policy framework, the telecom sector should be able to generate 20 lakh jobs, achieve 900 million broadband subscriptions with download speed of 2 Mbps and connect all gram panchayats with at least 1 gigabit per second with wireless broadband by 2022.

Trai reiterated its long pending demand of putting in place an ombudsman based consumer grievance redressal mechanism “by end of 2018”.

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