Shri K. Rajaraman, IAS
Chairman DCC & Secretary,
2nd Floor, Sanchar Bhawan, 20, Ashoka Road,
New Delhi. PIN- 110001
In an increasingly interconnected world, India is engaging international attention due to its progress and potential as a leading participant. The size of the digital economy in India is in fact expected to cross the USD 1 trillion mark from the current estimated level of around USD 350 billion. Telecommunications is expected to play a pivotal role in this extraordinary growth trajectory, contributing more than 50% to the Digital Economy.
Hon'ble PM's vision of Antodaya or inclusion is not attainable unless we work on digital inclusion through 'Connectivity for All'. For the Indian economy to realize the full benefits of this boom, we need a robust and ubiquitous telecommunications infrastructure and services ecosystem so that the pay-off of the digital economy is not only maximized, but also permeates across regions and to all segments of the population. The June 2017 ICRIER study reveals that a 10% increase in internet usage in India can lead to a 3.3% increase in our GDP. This is primarily because the internet overcomes the lack of other physical infrastructure and can enable access to basic services such as education and health.
The telecom sector in India is poised to provide a solid foundation for sustained and equitable growth. Voice has become almost free in India and data is among the cheapest in the world. Devices too are becoming increasingly affordable. The mobile phone is in fact emerging as the most important instrument enabling universal access to a variety of services and 40% of the internet economy is being contributed by mobiles. The growth rate of data in India, in recent times, has been about 500% which is not only the fastest but is making India the biggest consumer of mobile data in the world, ahead of US and China.
In order for the telecommunications sector to scale up to meet the expectations of all stakeholders including citizens, the industry and Government, an investment of around USD 60 billion is required to be made over the next two years. This is going to be a challenge considering that the total investment in the sector over the last couple of decades has been of the order of around USD 140 billion. Creation of a conducive business environment is thus critical to catalyse the needed level investment
The Department of Telecommunications is striving to play the role of an enabler for the growth of the telecommunications sector and thereby, that of the digital economy. The National Digital Communications Policy (NDCP) - 2018, takes a holistic view of the various factors that enable robust and dynamic growth of the sector in the long run. The key themes that the NDCP 2018 looks at include, the regulatory & licensing framework impacting the sector, Spectrum Policies, connectivity for all, Quality of Services (QoS), ease of doing business and absorption of new technologies including 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT). The common underlying themes of ‘Make in India’ and ‘Skill India,’ would of course, cut across all of the above.
The Department also continues to work towards the critical objectives of 'Connectivity for All' through universal mobile and broadband connectivity. The BharatNet project, that aims to create high speed broadband infrastructure catering to almost the entire rural population, continues to be the focus of this endeavour. Various other USOF programs, including those aimed at connectivity for the North East and Left Wing Extremism impacted areas, are also enabling mobile connectivity in hitherto uncovered areas.
We are indeed today at an extremely exciting phase of the Indian telecommunications revolution. The just concluded 5G Spectrum auction to be followed by the launch of 5G Services are major milestones. We hope to launch the USOF R&D fund this year to enable strategies & other domestic firms in developing new and affordable technologies. I am sure that with the present renewed focus on digital inclusion, connectivity for all and strengthening and modernizing telecommunications sector, we should soon be able to achieve our objective of just and equitable growth.
Chairman DCC & Secretary