National Telecom Policy to be in place by June

National Telecom Policy to be in place by June

New Delhi: The National Telecom Policy (NTP) 2012, under which government has proposed free roaming throughout the country, is likely to be in place by June, said the Economic Survey 2011-12.

“Draft of the policy was circulated in 2011 for consultation with various stakeholders. Views/comments from these stakeholders have been received and the same are under consideration. NTP is likely to be in place by June 2012," the Survey said.

DoT is now in the process of seeking Cabinet approval. DoT secretary R Chandrashekhar has said that the draft policy will be sent to the Cabinet by end of March and the department expects to get the nod by April-end.

Approval of NTP 2012 will pave the way for consumers to use the same number anywhere in the country without paying roaming charges. Also, it will allow subscribers to change operators using mobile number portability (MNP) while moving to any other state or telecom circle. At present, MNP allows users to change operators within same telecom circle, which in most cases is equal to a state.

The NTP also aims at simplifying and rationalizing the licensing regime and putting in place a transparent system for allocation of spectrum, or radio waves, and enabling their efficient usage.

India is one of the fastest growing telecom markets in the world. The growth of wireless connections has been phenomenon, reaching 893.86 million at the end of December, the Survey said.

The share of wireless phones of the total increased from 80.3% in March 2007 to 96.4% in December 2011. The total number of telephones increased from 429.73 million on 31 March 2009, to 926.55 million in December 2011.

About 5.79 lakh villages, about 97.69% of the census 2001, have been covered with the village public telephone facility as on 31 December. The rest are likely to be covered by August 2012, it said.

“The liberalization efforts of the government are evident in the growing share of the private sector in total telephone connections as against a meagre 5% in 1999, the share of private operators has increased to 86% in December 2011," the Survey said.

Teledensity has increased from 18.2% in March 2007 to 76.86% in December 2011.

The Economic Survey, however, pointed out to the significant urban-rural divide. “While urban teledensity reached 167.4% at the end of December 2011, rural teledensity was only 37.5%," it said.

The number of broadband subscribers was 13.30 million as on 31 December 2011 while there were 20.99 million Internet users at the end of March 2011. “Broadband has lacked behind the growth of telephones in India. Special efforts are being made to increase its penetration especially in rural and remote areas," the Survey said.