NEW DELHI: With an exponential growth in satellite communication (satcom) services in recent years, the Modi government is considering reviewing the satcom policy after over 20 years. As of now, the 1997 policy still guides the sector.
At the Broadband India Forum (BIF) international summit on ‘India Satcom 2018’ here, telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan said, “India has entered the era of a very high growth rate in data consumption. The growth in mobile data usage has increased 15 times. Data is the new asset. As we are witnessing a paradigm change in the satcom sector, India must have ‘fundamental rethink’ on the satcom policy.”
The telecom secretary said that “100 to 200 million living in urban areas are not behind the high growth rate in data consumption, but it is the people living in rural areas who are the driving force behind the exponential growth”. Sundararajan said in an era of 5G and Internet of Things (IOT), the demand for communication infrastructure “far from slowing down, will increase exponentially”.
She said the new digital communications policy or new telecom policy, which was approved by the Cabinet on September 26 this year, aims to provide universal broadband connectivity at 50Mbps to every citizen by 2022, create four million additional jobs and likely to enhance the contribution of digital communications sector to 8% of GDP, from current 6%.
Isro chairman K Sivan, who could not attend the summit as he was busy with work related to recently launched Gsat29 communication satellite, hailed the BIF effort for bringing together all stakeholders in the satcom business for reaching a common ground.
Sivan recently told TOI that high throughput communication satellites Gsat-9, Gsat-29, Gsat-11 and Gsat-20 would usher in a new era of high-speed internet and give a big push to the government’s ‘Digital India’ programme. While Gsat-9 and Gsat-29 have been launched, Gsat-11 will be placed in the geo orbit in December first week and Gsat-20 by next year. The four satellites together will provide a 70-100 GB per second data link.
On the sidelines of the summit, T V Ramachandran, president, Broadband India Forum, in an exclusive interview with TOI, told about the expectations of the industry from the new satcom policy. He said, “We are looking for a greater role for the private sector in the new policy. There should be a joint maximisation of potential by private and public players.”
On pricing, the BIF president said, “All the players in the satcom business see a scope for the government to bring down satellite bandwidth cost.” On fibre network, he said, “Unlike western countries which are heavily wired up, fibre connectivity in our country is poor. It is the need of the hour to connect far-flung areas like northeastern states. Potential is enormous. Even overseas players are keen to come in and take up the job.”
On Isro’s launch priorities, he said, “I agree with Dr Sivan’s views that the nation’s priority for satellite requirements comes first. However, there should be concurrent activities on satellite launches meant for fulfilling the country’s needs and launches meant for commercial purpose.”
On the new telecom policy called new digital communications policy, the BIF president said, “It is a brilliant policy. telecom is passe. We have to think of voice and data. Digital telecom policy reflects those priority. We now have to think digital.”