Vouching for changes in policies for deeper penetration of the internet in Indian markets, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) chairman RS Sharma said that need of the hour is to create an infrastructure that can provide internet services to a population of 1.2 billion despite geographical and economic challenges.
He was addressing mediapersons after inaugurating a national telecom seminar at the Amity University campus in Noida on Friday.
“There is a need to change the policies regarding satellite services being used to provide bandwidth to rural areas in India. There are taxation and billing issues with Direct to Home (DTH) owners and they must also be sorted so that cable services can also be used to provide telecom service to all,” Sharma said.
In his inaugural address, he expressed displeasure over the slow rate of internet penetration in India due to bureaucratic issue.
“We have been slow in adapting to the concept of paperless governance. With a population of 1.2 billion people, the scope for technological advances in telecom services is huge, but we have been slow in putting technology to its appropriate use, especially in government offices,” said Sharma.
Sharma also lauded Prime Minister Modi’s efforts to introduce digital economy and said all parties involved in providing telecom services should act in a collaborated manner.
“PM Modi has three plans for digital India — creating an infrastructure for digitisation, enabling quality software to run on that infrastructure and providing digital empowerment to citizens,” Sharma said.
The regulatory body chairman also listed a few suggestions for the government for creating a digital infrastructure on a private partnership.
“Bharat Net should be developed on a public-private partnership basis. That way, alignment of interests will take place in both aspects of construction of digital infrastructure and its application,” Sharma said.
The chairman further said cable television service providers and satellite services can also be put to use to ensure that digital revolution reaches every corner of India despite geographical difficulties. He also hinted at introducing change in policies for easy access to such services.
“Cable service providers can help by delivering bandwidth to telecom operators and we can reciprocate by providing them incentives. There is a need to sort the taxation and billing issues associated with them. Similarly, satellites can be used to provide bandwidth to difficult terrains. There are policy constraints associated with usage of satellite and it should be sorted as well,” said Sharma.
Lastly, Sharma said the regulatory body is aiming at creating interoperable WiFi hot spots to enable seamless connectivity among the service providers.
“We are in the process of finalising an architecture which will create interoperable WiFi hotspots throughout the country where the user will have to authenticate his/her identification once and attach the payment instrument once. After that, the user can travel across India and seamlessly get connected. We have a roadmap for the project as well,” Sharma said.