The Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) have been widely recognised by the Governments all over the world as key enablers for socio-economic development. They have become all pervasive and are transforming our economies, societies and lives. These technologies keep progressing by leaps and bounds to keep pace with the ever-expanding expectations of new services and applications. The rate is so fast that the technological landscape undergoes a metamorphosis after every few years.
Networks & Technologies (NT) Wing of DoT, which came into existence in 2010, deals with policy and regulatory aspects related to new & emerging technologies in the country. The primary functions of the Wing as of now include:
- Policy formulation and regulatory aspects related to Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communications including identification of critical M2M/IoT services.
- Setting up of Indigenous 5G Test Bed in collaboration with premier academic institute for enabling Indian academia, industry and start-ups to validate their products/prototypes.
- Formulation of Policy directives, regulations and creation of framework for monitoring & enforcement of Net Neutrality.
- Creation of an enabling light touch regulatory framework for proliferation of Cloud Services.
- Policy formulation, facilitation and review of transition to the Next Generation Internet Protocol version 6 i.e. IPv6 in a phased and time bound manner across all stakeholders.
- Examination of the impact of Over-The-Top (OTT) Services and initiation of policy guidelines on need basis for orderly growth of OTT domain.
- Policy formulation for creation of a road map for proliferation of Artificial Intelligence(AI) and Big Data and its uses in Communication sector.
- Collaboration, Coordination and Interaction with Central Government departments/ Industry Associations for gaining insights in various emerging new technologies to facilitate in policy formulation.
- Simplifying licensing activities of DoT by implementing paperless online license management system and integrating various functions related to license/registration across all field units of DoT.
The Internet today has become a global network serving billions of users worldwide due to wide acceptability of the Internet Protocol (IP). The Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) is more than three decades old protocol having many limitations. The biggest limitation is its 32-bit addressing space resulting in 4.3 billion IP addresses. The rapid growth of Internet, broadband, mobile subscribers and deployment of Next Generation Network (NGN) technology has accelerated consumption of IP addresses, resulting in almost exhaustion of IPv4 addresses worldwide.
To overcome this shortage, Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) was developed, which improves on the addressing capacities of IPv4 by using 128 bits address instead of 32 bits, thereby practically making available almost an infinite pool of IP addresses. IPv6 will provide enabling platform for Internet of Things (IoT)/ M2M Communications.
NT Wing, continuously facilitates all stakeholders & regularly reviews the progress of IPv6 transition through policy guidelines and meetings. Significant progress has already been made among stakeholders for transition to IPV6.
Recently, DoT had revised IPv6 transition timelines which are available at following link https://dot.gov.in/ipv6-transition.
Machine-to-Machine (M2M) Communications:
Machine-to-Machine communications, often termed M2M is going to be the next generation of Internet revolution connecting more and more devices on Internet. M2M communications refer to automated applications which involve machines or devices communicating through a network without human intervention. Sensors and communication modules are embedded within M2M devices, enabling data to be transmitted from one device to another device(s) through wired and wireless communications networks.
M2M is expected to revolutionize performance of various sectors, businesses and services, by providing automation and intelligence to the end devices, in a way that was never imagined before. It may be applied to robots and conveyor belts on the factory floor, to tractors and irrigation on the farm, from heavy equipment to hand drills, from jet engines to bus fleets; from home appliances to health monitoring; from Smart Grid to Smart Water; almost every piece of equipment, everywhere. It can bring substantial tangible social and economic benefits by giving more efficient and effective services to the citizens.
NT Wing deals with all policy and regulatory aspects related to M2M communications. Following initiatives have been taken by DoT:
- ‘National Telecom M2M Roadmap’ was released by Hon’ble MoC on 12thMay, 2015. Roadmap document endeavours to assimilate various M2M standards, outline policy and regulatory approaches and measures for increased M2M proliferation.
- DoT has implemented separate 13-digit numbering scheme for SIM based M2M devices.
- Instructions for Know Your Customer (KYC) for SIM embedded M2M Devices were issued addressing identification and traceability of M2M Devices.
- DoT has issued instructions, permitting the use of e-SIM with both single and multiple profile configurations with Over the Air(OTA) subscription update facility, as per prevailing global specifications and standards(GSMA).
NT Wing is engaged in framing of regulatory framework for M2M service providers, identifying critical services for M2M communications including regulatory requirements for such identified critical services.
Tremendous growth in reach of Internet in the past has been made possible through ubiquitous telecom access made available in every nook and corner of the country on the one hand and a vibrant content and application ecosystem on the other. Impact of emerging new business models through Internet and desire to preserve and protect the open nature of the public Internet has given rise to issues concerning Net Neutrality. NT Wing deals with policy matters relating to Net Neutrality.
TRAI released its regulation "Prohibition of discriminatory tariffs for data services, Regulations, 2016" on 8th February, 2016 which, inter alia, prohibits any service provider from offering or charging discriminatory tariffs for data services on the basis of content. Subsequently, TRAI provided its recommendations on 'Net Neutrality' dated 28.11.2017 to DoT.
Government is committed to the fundamental principles and concepts of Net Neutrality i.e. keep the Internet accessible and available to all without discrimination. Internet Access Services, therefore, need to be governed by a principle that restricts any form of discrimination, restriction or interference in the treatment of content, including practices like blocking, degrading, slowing down or granting preferential speeds or treatment to any content. To ensure that the regulatory framework on Net Neutrality adheres to the fundamental principles and concepts of Net Neutrality, the policy directives on Net Neutrality have been issued.
Besides, DoT sought additional recommendations from TRAI on Traffic Management Practices (TMPs) and the composition, functions, role and responsibilities of the multi-stakeholder body. TRAI provided its recommendations on Traffic Management Practices (TMPs) and Multi-Stakeholder Body for Net Neutrality dated 22.09.2020 which are under examination at present.
The National Digital Communication Policy (NDCP)-2018 recognizes Cloud Computing as one of the key enablers for provision of future ready ICT products and services. It lays emphasis on enabling a light touch regulation for the proliferation of cloud based systems.
On the request from DoT, TRAI provided its recommendations on Cloud Services. After careful consideration of the recommendations DoT decided that light touch regulatory approach may be adopted to regulate Cloud Services. The recommendation regarding framework for registration of Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) for industry/ body(ies), which are not for profit, were accepted by the Government in principle.
And accordingly, additional recommendations were sought from TRAI on the terms and conditions of registration of industry body, eligibility, entry fee, period of registration and governance structure etc. TRAI provided its recommendations on ‘Cloud Services’ dated 14.09.2020 which are under examination at present. In addition, TSDSI (Telecommunications Standards Development Society, India), the National Telecom Standards Development Organization (SDO) have also been tasked by DoT with the development of Cloud Services interoperability standards in India.
To improve ease of doing business, ensure transparency and to make the licensing process more efficient SARALSANCHAR (Simplified Application for Registration and Licenses), a web based portal was launched by Hon’ble Minister of State (I/C) for Communications. The Portal in its present form covers receipt of applications from applicants for issue of new Unified Licenses, WPC Licences, Other Service Providers (OSP) registrations. Applicants can apply for by filling up the prescribed application form online and upload the documents and application form with digital signature. The portal envisages that applicant gets prompts and alerts at various stages of application submission so that all necessary requirements are compiled before submitting the application.
Indigenous 5G Test Bed:
The fifth generation of mobile network communication technology, known as 5G, promises to usher in a new paradigm in global telecom space. 5G has been conceived as a foundation for expanding the potential of the networked society. 5G Test Beds act as a catalyst for 5G ecosystem by promoting interoperability and fostering innovation.
Accordingly, Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has approved financial grant for a multi-institute collaborative project to set up ‘Indigenous 5G Test Bed’ in India at a total cost of Rs. 224.01 crore over a period of 36 months. The eight collaborating institutes in the project are Centre of Excellence in Wireless Technology (CEWiT), IIT Bombay, IIT Delhi, IIT Hyderabad, IIT Madras, IIT Kanpur, IISc Bangalore and Society for Applied Microwave Electronics Engineering & Research (SAMEER). The Test Bed has been completed on 31-12-2021.
The project has the potential to enhance national capability in telecom technology, develop indigenous IP and give fillip to Indian telecom manufacturers. The project will support distributed development and deployment of the test bed and enable integrated usage of the same. The final integrated test bed will be accessible from locations across the country via high-speed links. Significant progress has been made by institutes in system design, hardware design and algorithm design in all locations. A Project Review & Steering Group (PRSG) has been constituted by DoT in order to monitor and review the project.
The Test Bed is available to industry, academia, research institutions Government bodies etc. for various product development, R&D and capacity building activities. The link of the portal to access the ‘Indigenous 5G Test Bed’ is https://user.cewit.org.in/5gtb/index.jsp.