NTP 2012: A Good Beginning
The National Telecom Policy 2012 (NTP 2012) has finally been approved by the Union Cabinet. It is a welcome move by the government as one can now look at things afresh and all this can now speed up telecom activity in the country. All the stakeholders have to now work hard to achieve the objectives of NTP 2012.
In terms of statistics, the policy talks about increasing rural teledensity from present 39 to 70 by 2017 and 100 by 2020. This is a good move but the way current spectrum prices have been designed by Trai and future spectrum prices will be based on last auction price, the task looks highly impossible since affordability will be a big issue in rural areas. The demand of telecom services is inversely proportional to telecom tariffs, so focus should be on keeping tariffs low. To achieve this, the government has to come up with some innovative ways to reach 100% rural teledensity within 8 years.
With respect to broadband, NTP 2012 talks about broadband for all and even download speed has been increased from 512 Kbps to 2 Mbps. The increase in download speed will result in reduction of broadband connections which presently hovers around 13 mn. Operators need to see how they can increase broadband connectivity and achieve 175 mn broadband connections by 2017 and 600 mn connections by 2020.
This is not an easy task and operators need to brainstorm on how to provide value for money. Even bandwidth prices need to be cut drastically so that one can achieve their numbers comfortably. Also, operators need to create a sturdy broadband infrastructure for data-hungry applications of future.
Making India a global hub is one of the key objectives of NTP 2012 but this looks to me the most difficult task as one has to start from scratch. The value addition clause will be a big plus but it has to be implemented seriously by the government. DoT should also see that 80% of the local demand is met through domestic manufacturing which will give a big push to India in becoming a global hub for telecom manufacturing. Also, local manufacturers have to set up their base outside India so that one can book export orders from Asian and African countries.
For manufacturing to succeed, the government has to set up a complete ecosystem. The government should encourage companies to plan and invest in the country as China presently has over capacities and companies are planning to de-risk their business by investing in new locations and India seems to be an ideal location.
The government needs to package manufacturing in such a way that investors get their return on investment. Even time-bound clearances for manufacturing companies will be a big plus as it will help them in building capacities without any cost escalation.
Full mobile number portability and free roaming will be a big plus for the consumers but operators will have a tough time to see how they can recover their revenue loss and adjust them with the growing traffic. Allowing voice over IP will be a big advantage but before commenting one has to see the complete nitties and gritties on what has been allowed and what not.
It is good to see government embracing new technologies like cloud computing and IPV6 and they should be the first to implement these in their respective departments to see the real benefit and then go for mass scale deployment.
All this is good but the government should have also ensured that the final policy approved by the Union Cabinet should also be made available to all stakeholders so that bureaucracy can be minimized and India can achieve the objectives of NTP 2012.