TR Dua highlights industry concerns in his welcome address at ISMC-22

Communications Today, December 07, 2022

The 2nd India Spectrum Management Conference (ISMC-22) was held in the Capital, December 6-7, 2022. 

Organised by IAFI with Bharat Exhibitions as the event manager, it is supported by TEMA, Wi-Fi Alliance, Wireless World Forum, CUTS International, and TSDSI.

Communications Today is the media partner.

TR Dua, Chairman IAFI, welcomed the esteemed gathering. Extracts from his address,

“ISMC-22 is taking place less than a year before WRC-23, which is scheduled to be held in UAE from 10th November to 23rd November 2023.

Successful spectrum management is a long-term effort. The primary goal in all spectrum awards should be to encourage efficient spectrum use and the significant investment necessary to provide high-quality mobile services. When done right, mobile operators can feel safe to make investments to improve coverage and speeds. This, in turn, leads to huge benefits for the whole of society.

To facilitate the successful deployment of IMT systems, the policy to make the spectrum available to the market should be clearly stated. In order to guarantee that the spectrum policy is aligned with the country’s main objectives, it is important that telecommunications should figure on country’s main agenda. In this way, regulators and other government institutions will have the necessary support to conduct their activities.

Another important aspect that can foster IMT deployment is related to the institution arrangements for policy delivery. The agency responsible for the spectrum policy should pay close attention to the role of each government agent (national and subnational) as well as other market stakeholders. It is also important to avoid responsibility overlap or gaps in order to facilitate the achievement of goals, diminish tension between institutions, and encourage agreements.

In addition, all stakeholders should have a clear understanding of the decision-making process. This could be accomplished through the development of a code of practice for the decision-making process, enabling both regulators and operators to have a clear understanding of how regulatory decisions are made, and any applicable processes for appealing such decisions.

The IMT 2020 or 5G services with its enhanced capabilities has relevance cutting across industry verticals. To take advantage of 5G services for Digital India, the new frequency bands are added in NFAP 2022 where additional spectrum is added for IMT in frequency bands below 1 GHz, 70 MHz additional spectrum is added in mid band below 4 GHz and 16750 MHz additional spectrum is added in frequency bands above 24 GHz. This would enable new additional spectrum for upcoming 5G services.

Tackling the Digital Divide. As connectivity emerges as a key component of economic well-being and cohesion, the faster rollout of Digital Infrastructure becomes imperative. However, industry faces serious challenges which acts as the bottleneck for the rollout of Digital Infrastructure. The timely identification and redressal of these issues is critical.

The entire telecom operations and network rollout depend upon getting timely and affordable approvals from the authorities. However, the industry faces challenges in getting various approvals pertaining to Right of Way, access to Street Furniture, EMF norms etc. despite efforts by the government, which are hindering infrastructure rollouts at the last mile. This necessitates a collaborative role that Union and State governments and industry must play to overcome this challenge. DoT had recently notified the Right of Way (Amendment) Rules, 2022 & however, adoption and implementation of these rules by the State agencies and central ministries remain to be seen.

Even though India is the world’s third largest optical fibre cable market, current levels of rollout fall strikingly short of achieving the targets prescribed in the National Digital Communications Policy 2018. Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) deployments across top performing telecom markets reveal that fibre kilometre (fkm) per capita in India is amongst the lowest. For example, fkm per capita for China with 1.4 billion people is 0.87 whereas that of India with 1.3 billion people is just 0.09 (i.e., one-tenth of the availability of fibre in China). In developed markets such as the US and Japan, this ratio is 1.3 and higher.

Hence, Ease of Implementation; Optimum investment and maximum utilisation of digital infrastructure; and Sustainable resources and professional implementation are needed for enabling the faster rollout of digital infrastructure and bridging digital divide.

Providing Impetus to local Manufacturing

The main objective of Rs 12,195-crore production linked incentive (PLI) for the telecom sector is to boost domestic production, cut import dependency and create jobs. The scheme has been designed after wide and regular consultations with the industry which includes discussions on the provision around research and development.

Under the scheme, an investor can get incentive for incremental sales up to 20 incremental sales up to 20 times the committed investment, enabling them to reach global scales and utilise their unused capacity and ramp up production.

As per commitments given by the 31 applicants, they are expected to invest ₹ 3345 crore in the next 4 years and generate incremental employment of more than 40,000 people with expected an incremental production of around ₹ 1.82 Lakh Crore over the scheme period. The scheme is expected to boost domestic Research & Development of new products on which 15% of the committed investment could be invested.

The enthusiastic response to the scheme by domestic and global manufacturers indicates strong confidence in the “Atmanirbhar Bharat” & Make in India and achievement of scheme objective of creating global champions out of India who have the potential to grow in size and scale using cutting edge technology and thereby penetrate the global value chains. Telecom products play an important role in the larger vision of Digital India.”

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