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The Article is written by Shreya Pandey from Banasthali University, Jaipur. The Article analyzes the National  Digital communication Policy as to how far it is effective and applicable in the current and future situations.

Introduction

National Digital Communication Policy-2018 (NDCP-2018) was approved by the Union Cabinet by replacing the existing NCP-2012 to meet the current needs to make India digitally upgraded. As in the present world, many technological advancements in the Telecom sector have been done by introducing 5G, IoT, M2M, etc, it has become necessary for India to upgrade itself as well to enable customer focussed and application-driven policy.

This policy has made certain goals that are aimed to be accomplished until 2022. Its vision is to cater to the needs of the citizens and corporations to communicate and transmit and get information in a much easier way. It plans to establish a universal, secure, accessible, and cost-effective digital communication framework to support India to go head to head with the leading countries who have achieved the best results in this field so far.

There have been many significant changes in the NDCP and Draft Policy (DP) like in draft policy there was no reference of IP-PSTN while the NDCP recognizes the need for VoIP. The DP makes no plan to liberalize the requirements for import licensing while the NDCP recommends simplifying the requirements for import licensing. The DP endorses the application of light touch licensing regime for establishing cloud-based systems while NDCP aims to establish fibre networks for constructing data centre infrastructure in India. The DP has recommended a regulatory framework for service providers while the NDCP didn’t mention any such suggestion or plan on it.

Objective

The main objectives of this policy are to make the Indian digital communication framework better and provide easy and consistent availability to all the citizens. The targets which are set by this policy which are aimed to be fulfilled by 2022 are:

  1. To provide broadband to all the citizens.
  2. To create almost four million jobs in the digital communication field.
  3. To enhance the contribution of the sector from 6% of India’s GDP to 8%GDP.
  4. In the ICT development Index, to come in the top 50 nations from 134 in 2017.
  5. To contribute better in Global value chains.
  6. To ascertain the sovereignty of the digital communication sector.

In the Preamble of the NDCP, there are further few objectives mentioned. They are:

  • To make such policies and frameworks which can enhance dynamic competition in the digital communication sector.
  • To provide Indian consumers with an ample range of services at competing prices.
  • To boost and ensure fair competition across the digital communication sector.
  • To improve the existing regulations to attract investments, ensure fair competition, and fulfill Indian consumer needs.
  • To make such policies to make India ready for the future
  • To redesign the Telecom Commission to establish Digital Communication Commission.
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Mission and strategies

The policy visualizes three missions to be accomplished through this policy.  They are:

  • Connect India: Establishing a powerful and effective digital communication framework for providing broadband connectivity to all the citizens for providing better service quality and developing the socio-economic status of the country.

The goals under these missions can be enlisted as:

  • To provide comprehensive broadband connection to all individuals of the country at 50Mbps.
  • To give accessibility to all Gram Panchayats 1Gbps till 2020 and 10Gbps till 2022.
  • To provide all advancing institutions 100Mbps speed on demand.
  • To provide 50% of households with fixed access to a broadband connection.
  • To assure that those areas which were uncovered have connectivity.

The strategies made under the mission are:  

  • Establishment of National Broadband Mission to ensure that:
  • there is the availability of universal broadband access to all the citizens. BharatNet, GramNet, NagarNet, JanWifi were few broadband initiatives made by the government which was funded by USOF.
  • Establishing a National Digital Grid by creating a National Fibre Authority to provide development of availability to Next Generation Networks.
  • Implementation of Fibre First Initiative to provide access to fibre to homes, companies, associations, and other development infrastructures.
  • Establishing Mobile Tower Infrastructure by giving incentives to construct telecom towers, promoting stationing of solar and green energy for towers.
  • Advancement of international connectivity and providing facilities for establishing International Cable Landing Stations by reducing its cost.
  • Admitting that Spectrum is a way to achieve the countries’ socio-economic aims by:
  • Making proper availability of spectrum in the future.
  • Establishing transparent and fair policies for allocation and distribution of spectrum.
  • Utilizing and managing spectrum effectively.
  • Strengthen Satellite Communication technologies in the country by:
  • Reviewing the regulatory regime for satellite communication machinery.
  • Optimizing Satellite Communication technologies in India.
  • Ensuring that uncovered and areas that are excluded from digital services are included and given the necessary service by channelizing and reviewing the scope and modalities of USOF.
  • Assuring that the customers are satisfied, quality of services are maintained and effective grievances redressal mechanisms are provided.
  • Propel India: To enable the next generation of machinery by way of investment, modernization, and manufacturing.

The goals that are to be achieved until 2022 are:

  • Attracting finances in the Digital Communication Sector of 100 Billion.
  • Expanding the country’s contribution to Global Value Chains.
  • Creating internationally recognizable IPRs in India.

The strategies that are made can be listed as:

  • Increasing investments in the digital communication sector by recognizing this sector as an essential need by:
  • Encourage ease in doing business.
  • Reconstructing the licensing and regulatory sectors.
  • Reduce, simplify, and facilitate obligations that are to be followed.
  • Ensure reasonableness and proportionality in the regulations.
  • Ensuring that to meet the modern technologies harmonized approach would be followed by:
  • Adopting modern technologies by simplifying licensing regulations
  • Promoting the use of Open APIs for modern infrastructures.
  1. Secure India: Making sure that digital communications are safeguarded and sovereignty is maintained.

The goals that are to be achieved until 2022 are:

  • To ensure the privacy of data protection and facilitating India’s contribution in the global digital economy.
  • To establish an effective security infrastructure.
  • To check security issues and establish necessary security standards. 

The strategies that are made can be listed as:

  • To create a strong and dynamic Data Protection Infrastructure by:
  • Making amendments in the existing laws and regulations.
  • Keeping a regular check on the data protection regime.
  • To give the customers a wide range of choice and autonomy to the companies.
  • Ensuring that digital communications are secured by:
  • Keeping a regular check on the issues arising through digital communications.
  • Maintaining security standards meeting the globally set standards.
  • Building better security testing processes.
  • Preparing for relief through a plan for restoring and reconstructing itself by establishing a Unified Emergency Response Mechanism and developing disaster relief plans for India.

Advantages

Since this policy has come by replacing the old NDCP-2012, it has come up with new ideas to flourish the country by encouraging the use of modern digital communications and removing the drawbacks of the old policy. 

This policy is made in a view of future perspectives and sharing a globally recognized and established platform for digital communication. Its advantages are embodied in its features and objectives which replace the communication sector with the digital communication sector. 

The features of this policy are witnesses of the merits that are striving to make India a platform for the invitation of investments, enterprises, and a better economic country. It not only is focussed on the industrial sector it also covers the household areas by providing ample facilities to the houses. 

Few advantages of the policy can be enumerated as:

  1. It aims to provide a broadband connection at 50Mbps to every citizen which would help them to be upgraded with all the technical advancements and can be a source of income for many who work from home.
  2. Ensuring that all areas which were left uncovered are now given connectivity through which the areas which lacked behind can develop themselves.
  3. The policies made would attract huge investments from worldwide which will enhance the socio-economic status of the country.
  4. This policy plans to build security infrastructures, emergency relief processes, and other security testing processes that would provide individuals with safe and secure connectivity for digital communication.
  5. It supports fair competition where there is no monopoly.
  6. The customers will have the autonomy to choose whichever network they feel is better.
  7. It brings a revolution in the communication field by replacing communication sectors with digital communication sectors.
  8. It addresses some issues like expanding the scope of IPRs, the Ferberisation of towers, the establishment of towers, initiatives of Digital India, approach towards long-lasting telecommunications, and other reformative initiatives.  
  9. It suggests removing the lack of regulation that became hurdles in the way of investments, expansions of the enterprises.
  10. It proposes certain necessary changes that are necessary to put into reality to facilitate India to become a digital communication system of next-generation like:  amendments in existing laws, spectrum, Net Neutrality, IP-PSTN interconnectivity, Fibre First, satellite communication, review of the license fee, etc. 
  11. It suggests providing a safe and secure digital community for the protection of digital sovereignty of the country. 

                   

Disadvantages

The policy aims to make India ready for the future but the policy depends upon the machinery part from which those policies could be addressed and can be put in reality. This policy aims to achieve its goals and missions by 2022 but as of now, it is almost impossible to bring such immense change. The pandemic which came in the world has almost ruined the economic status of the most powerful countries and even India is now dealing with it due to which the aims that were set to be fulfilled till 2020 have become impossible. The move made by making this policy is a great initiative although its success completely depended on the way of implementation and execution. 

The disadvantages are although not much but it can be listed as under:

  1. The success of this policy completely depended on the way of execution and implementation of the policy.
  2. There is no review mechanism established to keep a check on the execution of the policy.
  3. The aims that were aimed to be fulfilled until 2020 are yet to be fulfilled.
  4. It failed to observe the necessity to relook the old regulatory frameworks.
  5. The implementation of the policy is yet to be done for the last year.
  6. The NDCP aims at next-generation technologies but lacks modern technologies such as Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV). 

Conclusion

NDCP is a great achievement for India as it thrives India to become globally advanced. It suggests making amendments in the old laws and bringing technological advancement in India which are already present in the world to make India ready for the future. Its main convergence is to make the telecom sector a digital communication sector due to which the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is impending to be renamed as Digital Communication Regulatory Authority of India (DCRAI). 

The policy aims to make India ready for the future but the policy depends upon the machinery part from which those policies could be addressed and can be put in reality. This policy aims to achieve its goals and missions by 2022 but as of now, it is almost impossible to bring such immense change. The pandemic which came in the world has almost ruined the economic status of the most powerful countries and even India is now dealing with it due to which the aims that were set to be fulfilled till 2020 have become impossible. The move made by making this policy is a great initiative although its success completely depended on the way of implementation and execution. 

NDCP aims to make India a Digital First world and thrives in implementing technologies such as 5G, M2M, etc. There has been a good start to the implementation of the suggestions of the NDCP by DoT as few of the suggestions of the NDCP are put into implementation like removal of import licensing requirement for low power licensing power equipment and issuing National Frequency Allocation Plan-2018.

References

  1. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/what-is-new-telecom-policy-2018-digital-connectivity-communications-5375761/
  2. https://vikaspedia.in/e-governance/digital-india/national-digital-communications-policy-2018
  3. https://www.mondaq.com/india/Media-Telecoms-IT-Entertainment/781670/A-Thrust-For-Digital-Connected-India-The-National-Digital-Communications-Policy-2018
  4. https://dot.gov.in/sites/default/files/EnglishPolicy-NDCP.pdf

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