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The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued its recommendations for the National Telecom Policy (NTP) 2018 in which the regulator said that the telecom sector should attract investments of about $100 billion by 2022.
It said that the objective of the NTP 2018 would be to enable access at affordable prices for wireless broadband services, including through satellite to 90 percent population by 2022 and to achieve 900 million broadband subscriptions supporting download speed of 2 Mbps, out of that at least 150 million broadband subscriptions supporting download speed of 20 Mbps and 25 million at a download speed of 50 Mbps by 2022.
According to TRAI's recommendation to the telecom department, a review of telco license fees, spectrum usage charges (SUC), Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) levy to enhance the overall ease of doing business.
Furthermore, the regulator in its recommendations also mentions that the objective of the policy would also be to provide 1Gbps data connectivity to all Gram Panchayats to enable wireless broadband services to inhabitants by 2022.
To achieve 'unique mobile subscriber density' of 55 by 2020 and 65 by 2022 by enhancing mobile network coverage to 95% of inhabitants by 2020 and 100 percent by 2022 and to deploy 2 million public WLAN including Wi-Fi hotspots in the country
by 2020 and 5 million by 2022, TRAI added.
The telecom regulator suggested that the government put in place an ombudsman-based consumer redressal mechanism by the end of this year, and had also suggested establishing an online centralized platform for the provision of Right of Way (RoW) permissions for single window clearance by next year.
Meanwhile COAI, Director General Rajan Mathews said that "We support the suggestion of TRAI to name this policy document as Information and Communication Technology Policy-2018. We are happy that TRAI has considered most of the suggestions made by COAI and has come out with the objectives along with specific timelines to achieve the same.
He said, "We strongly support the TRAI's Recommendations on simplifying the licensing and regulatory frameworks and rationalizing taxes, levies and related compliance by 2019 and we expect that the same would be done at the earliest, in this year itself. We hope that the simplification of compliance includes the reduction in the multiple audits, which will save the cost and efforts of the operators." Adding that TRAI has also come out with the strategies to achieve certain targets like leapfrogging India into the Top-50 nations in International rankings in Ease of Doing Business in the ICT sector. COAI is of the view that in order to achieve these targets, the Govt. should come out with a detailed plan on each of the objective clearly outlining the strategies, timelines, targets, roles & responsibilities of various stakeholders.
The industry has already invested over Rs 9 lakh crores, the sector is currently reeling under a debt of over Rs 4.5 lakh crores and a substantive investment is required of over 2-3 lakh crores over the next couple of years for a fully connected and a Digitally empowered India. The industry has therefore called for creating a stable, predictable, innovation & investment, friendly regulatory and policy environment. We hope that the government will extend both urgent relief, and address these systematic issues outlined by the industry, aligned with the recommendations issued by TRAI.