Govt talks of ‘more conducive’ telecom policy, spectrum reform

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Government is open to framing “more conducive” telecom policies to suit business needs of offering quality service to consumers and will soon usher in reforms in providing easy access to quality backend spectrum required for transmitting mobile signals.

“Our efforts will continue in making conducive and progressive policies and creating business-friendly environment in the country. Industry has to continue to devote efforts to increasing and upgrading quality through innovation and competition,” Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha said at India Telecom 2016.

He said the traditional regulatory framework, which was designed for an era where clear differences existed between services and infrastructure, need to adapt and adjust to new services and convergence.

“As we speak, India has overtaken the US to become the world’s largest Internet market with 343 million users. This talks about progress and achievements of the Indian telecom sector. Having said that, still more needs to be done to connect millions of people who don’t have access to connectivity,” Sinha said.

Telecom Secretary J S Deepak said the Department of Telecom is working on ending some of the permits like wireless operating licence and bringing in reforms in backhaul spectrum so that operators are able to conveniently transmit their services.

“We are going to work on reforms in the area of backhaul spectrum and very soon, you will see some movement there. Besides reforms, there will be easy availability of backhaul spectrum,” Deepak said.

Backhaul spectrum is used for transmitting signals among mobile towers.

Telecom operators have sought the opening up of new frequency bands — 71-76 gigahertz (GHz) and 50 GHz. Wireless services deployed in these bands are believed to deliver broadband speed of up to 1 gigabyte per second as in the case of optical fibre.

Opening up of backhaul spectrum is expected to reduce cost and time of deploying networks and also declutter the tedious process of seeking permit from local authorities of laying out optical fibre network.

Deepak said that with recent spectrum auction, there is no shortage of mobile frequencies in the market and reforms in backhaul spectrum will further ease the load on telecom operators.

“This government is committed to reforms so that doing business and enhancing quality experience to consumers become easy and you (industry) benefit from scaling, cost reduction and hopefully pass on that to consumers so that broadband expands,” Deepak said.

The telecom minister said DoT will organise India telecom event every year to facilitate interaction between the industry and the government.