A National Telecom Policy is currently under formulation and will be “soon” made public for stakeholder consultation, Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha has said.
The upcoming policy will look at areas such as technology innovation and security, as well as plug “loopholes”, the Minister said, but did not elaborate on the specifics.
“We are framing a National Telecom policy...Once it is formulated, we will upload it online for comments of public, academia, industry, and then, we will go to the Parliament,” Sinha told PTI.
He said at a broad level, the policy will be driven by technology innovations, among other aspects.
“There are many things which change with time...we will take all that into consideration,” he said, adding it will also address “loopholes.”
He was responding to a question on gaps that the new policy will seek to address over the National Telecom Policy (NTP), 2012. Asked about the timeframe for finalising the new policy, Sinha said he expected it “soon”.
“I am hopeful that it will come soon. First, we will initiate a consultation...maybe the implementation will take some time, but we will soon put it on the website so we can seek people’s opinion,” he said.
Sinha added that reforms, especially consumer-centric ones, will continue in the telecom sector and hinted that some announcements were in the offing.
“Reforms will continue...In the coming days, there will be some news regarding reforms, and it will be consumer-centric,” he said but declined to divulge details.
Under the NTP 2012, the Telecom Ministry has issued technology-neutral telecom licences, which was delinked from spectrum. Other reforms that have been undertaken include finalisation of spectrum trading and sharing rules, full mobile number portability, increasing spectrum supply for the industry, Right of Way norms and eKYC.
However, it is yet to meet certain targets such as 2 megabits per second broadband speed for consumers and formation of the National Mobile Property Registry.
Also, the new policy formulation comes at a time when the sector is confronting financial difficulties. Revenue and profitability of both large and small operators have come under severe pressure after the entry of aggressive newcomer Reliance Jio and the subsequent advent of free data and voice offerings.
The telecom industry’s debt has touched ₹4.6 lakh crore, and a latest report by rating agency ICRA has warned that industry revenue will plunge another 6 per cent in the current financial year due to competition and pricing pressure.