New telecom policy likely before March 2018: Manoj Sinha

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New Delhi: Union minister Manoj Sinha on Friday said the new telecom policy is likely to be announced before March 2018 which will focus on 5G technology ecosystem, data security and privacy and other key areas in the sector.

“Whether it is broadband spectrum, Internet adoption/availability, data protection or cyber security, what was applicable five years back is no more relevant in today’s context and new policies will need to be futuristic,” telecom minister Manoj Sinha said at a ‘Broadband India Forum’ event.

He said while the buzz today is 4G, the government is gearing up for the introduction of 5G services.

“We need to think of and prepare for an ecosystem where Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are mainstream and connectivity is seamless, designed to improve the quality of e-governance and education as well as to enable financial inclusion, smart cities and an intelligent transportation system, amongst other things,” Sinha said. When asked if the new policy can be expected by March next year, Sinha said “may be before that”.

Sinha released a joint study by ICRIER & Broadband India Forum on impact internet application on GDP.

As per the study, a 17% increase in the total internet traffic in India during 2015-16 contributed to an increase of Rs7 lakh crore in GDP, of which at least Rs1.4 lakh crore was due to internet-based app services. This puts the internet’s contribution to India’s GDP at about 5.6% in 2015-16. The contribution is estimated to grow to nearly 16% of the country’s GDP by 2020 or Rs36 lakh crore ($534 billion), of which apps will contribute about half, the study said.

“We talk of impact of infrastructure creation on the economy but I think more important is how we use that infrastructure which will finally benefit the economy. There should be light touch policy to allow seamless use of infrastructure,” BIF chairman and former telecom secretary M.F. Farooqui said.

Telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan said that broadband infrastructure should be used to deliver more than just entertainment and communication, and in new policy the government will look at coming with light touch regulation so that services like healthcare, education, financial services reach to the bottom of the pyramid. Internet apps and services are disrupting traditional industries.

Regulation, globally, is evolving to strike the right balance between protecting consumer/business interests and encouraging the ecosystem to innovate further. India needs to chart its own course from a policy/regulation perspective considering the significant higher impact on its economy,” BIF president T.V. Ramachandran said.

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