Telecommunication has emerged as a key driver of economic and social development in an increasingly knowledge intensive global scenario. Sustained adoption of technology offers viable options in overcoming developmental challenges in education, health, employment generation, financial inclusion and much else. Today, India is one of the fastest growing telecom markets in the world. The unprecedented increase in teledensity and sharp decline in tariffs in the Indian telecom sector have contributed significantly to the country's economic growth. Besides contributing to about 3% to India's GDP, Telecommunications, along with Information Technology, has greatly accelerated the growth of the economic and social sectors.
The last decade is characterised by significant penetration of telecommunications in India. The number of telephone connections has increased to 893 million in January 2013 as compared to 41 million in December 2001. This growth has been primarily fuelled by the cellular segment (mobile phones) which alone accounted for 862 million connections at the end of January 2013. The composition of the telecom sector too has witnessed a structural change, with the private sector accounting for around 88 % of the total connections. While urban teledensity has risen to 148%, rural teledensity has also increased significantly to 40%.
The socio-economic impact that this growth has had on the country, points to both the opportunities and challenges confronting the sector in the years to come. Recognising these new opportunities and the imperatives arising from the challenges in terms of consumer needs, technology and structure of the industry, Government has adopted the National Telecom Policy 2012, to drive the next revolution in growth of telecom services and provide a stable policy regime for the years to come.
The policy has set ambitious targets of 100% rural teledensity and 600 million broadband connections by 2020. NTP- 2012 outlines various measures envisaged to develop a conducive ecosystem to achieve these lofty aspirations. To spur this phase of growth of the sector, Government has already launched a national optical fibre network project called NOFN. NOFN will connect over 250,000 gram panchayats through high speed, high capacity optical fibre medium. This network in conjunction with private sector participation at the last mile would result in provision of a range of innovative services to rural India. At the same time, this would enable people in rural areas to participate in, contribute to and derive benefits from the information economy.
Process to implement the various provisions of NTP-12 has already been initiated. Spectrum has been delinked from the Licenses. While auction was adopted as a methodology for allotment in 2010, the principle has been further refined to allocate spectrum for commercial services through auctions, which were conducted in November, 2012 and March, 2013. To simplify the licensing regime, a Unified Licensing Regime through which the licensee can offer multiple services through a common process has been initiated and expected to be concluded soon.
Conscious of its responsibility towards parts of the country where diffusion of telecom services needs to be accelerated further, the Government is in the process of finalising development plans for extending the reach of telecommunication facilities in Left Wing Extremism (LWE) affected areas. Focus is being given towards implementation of similar plans for the North East Region (NER) and the Islands.
We, in the Department of Telecommunication, assure you of our enduring commitment to the empowerment of people through telecommunications.
I hope you will find this website useful. Your suggestions and feedback would be of immense help to us.
With best wishes to all.
Chairman TC & Secretary(T)