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2012: New policy to draw roadmap for telecom sector

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CIOL Bureau
New Update

NEW DELHI, INDIA: The year 2011 kept the telecom sector on its toes. The alleged 2G spectrum allocation scandal that made headlines comes as a dent to some of the major Indian telecom companies.

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As 2012 sets in, the industry has its own wish list. With the National Telecom Policy coming into force during mid-2012, the service operators, equipment manufacturers and VAS providers are optimistic.

The new policy that would be followed for a decade has many promises. The issues such as infrastructure sharing, spectrum re-farming and subscription-linked criteria for 2G spectrum allocation are some of the most sought-after.

The infrastructure providers may be brought under unified licensing regime, which would give another dimension to the sector. On the other hand the electronics manufacturing Bill, if passed by the Parliament would help leapfrog the industry.

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As the ambiguity fades away after the new policy framework, the telecom industry is poised to attract significant investments–both from domestic investors and FDI. India as an emerging manufacturing entity could serve the procurement needs of other south Asian nations.

In an interaction with CIOL, MAIT president Alok Bharadwaj said that the Indian government needs to make manufacturing in India globally competitive, and nurture India as an attractive destination using both administrative as well as fiscal policies.

"India has a golden opportunity to show to the world that we can become a vital part of the ‘derisking’ strategy that all global ICTE companies are deliberating after the recent natural disasters disrupting supply chains in the world," said Bharadwaj.

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The government’s next big focus would be to attract private players for national optic fibre network (NOFN) rollout. This ambitious Rs 20,000 crore project will usher new horizons for the entire industry. 2012 would be the crucial year for this initiative.

As this project would be the largest fibre rollout in the world, the department of relecommunications (DoT) is mulling technology-neutral approach. With a focus to connect 25,000 villages by 2014, the government has formed a special-purpose vehicle for project execution.

Rajan S. Mathews, director general of the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI),  said that they believe the government should be technology neutral and allow the industry to determine the best and most efficient use of spectrum.

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COAI supports LTE as the preferred technology for broadband due to several major advantages. "In fact we believe that HSPA, HSPA+, WCDMA and WiMax will have a role to play in broadband during the period it takes for the LTE ecosystem to mature," said Mathews.

As the industry is shifting to advanced VAS offerings; the role of content providers and application developers has become immense. The revenue from VAS contributes nearly 15 per cent of the total operator revenues.

Minister of State for Communications and IT Milind Deora has was recently quoted as saying, “the next level of growth will be driven by high-end data services. VAS plays an important role in this data revolution.”



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