India: National Digital Communications Policy-2018

November 13, 2018

Being social animals, an indispensable requirement of human-life is the need to communicate amongst the community. The progress in the field of science and technology has permitted the mankind to connect with one another over large separation areas. In the modern world telecommunication plays an important part by transmission of messages over significant distances for the purpose of communication. Digital infrastructure and services are increasingly emerging as key enablers and critical determinants of a country’s growth and well-being.

National Digital Communications Policy – 2018

With the advent of digitalization, significant capabilities in both telecommunications and software have been endorsed in India, allowing it to benefit from new technologies and platforms to unlock productivity. In order to catalyse economic growth and development of the country, generating new- age jobs and livelihoods, and providing access to next generation services for the citizens, the Government has introduced the National Digital Communications Policy – 2018 (hereinafter referred to as “Policy”).

Objectives of the Policy

The guidelines laid down in the policy aim to create a vibrant competitive telecom market while protecting the consumer interets by providing widest range of services at competitive rates while not compromising with the quality. Some of the features of the said Policy are stated below:

  • Connect India: To promote ‘Broadband for all’ as a tool for socio-economic development, while guaranteeing service quality and environmental sustainability by creating robust digital communications infrastructure;
  • Propel India: 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 by encouraging investments, innovation and intellectual property rights by enabling ‘Next Generation Technologies and Services’.
  • Secure India: 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.

Strategies to achieve policy objectives

In order to fulfil the objects enumerated under the policy, the Government has devised strategies, some of which are listed below:

  • Establishment of suitable infrastructure and identification of digitally deprived regions to facilitate the availability of broadband services to cater the needs of multiple users;
  • Addressing the concerns such as customer satisfaction, quality of service and effective grievance redressal through an appropriate legal mechanism;
  • Reviewing the existing licensing, regulatory and resource allocation frameworks to incentivize investments and innovation to optimise new technology deployments;
  • Fostering the setting up of Start-Ups, small manufacturing units in furtherance to increase the level of domestic production and value addition;
  • Enforcement of stringent data protection regime and net neutrality principles ascertaining the confidentiality of personal and sensitive data of the users without hampering access to all.

The rapid and unprecedented proliferation of the internet, social media engines, digital payments platforms, etc. has lead to enormous rise in the level of data consumption across India indicating the transformation to a digitalized economic ecosystem. No longer restricted to be the prerogative of the privileged few, the newly announced policy has adopted the pragmatic approach of universal access. Rather than focussing on revenue maximisation, the policy tends to assist the business in the telecom sector by reducing the burdens on account of charges, levies and taxes. Working on ‘digital sovereignty’, the policy encompasses data privacy, choice and security of its citizens must be a prime consideration while participating in the global digital economy. The policy brings hope for the development of telecom sector while assuring customer safety.

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