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Scindia forms six stakeholder advisory committees to foster telecom sector growth

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has constituted six stakeholder advisory committees which will give inputs for fostering the growth of the sector and also for resolving key issues. The move was spearheaded by communications minister Jyotiraditya Scindia (pictured), who took charge earlier this month.

Committees have been constituted for original equipment makers (OEMs), telecom service providers (TSPs), the satellite communications ecosystem, internet service providers (ISPs), electronics, and an advisory committee of academicians and research and development in the telecommunications sector.

The first meetings of the committees are expected to take place soon, and members have been asked to share items for discussion as well as goals and targets for their respective areas. The committees will be represented by industry associations, private firms, NITI Aayog, public sector undertakings (PSUs) as well as officials from the DoT. A senior Dot official has been tasked with coordinating the various committees.

Stakeholders say that the move is significant as this is the first time that structured committees have been set up to cover all the broad segments of the telecom industry. This will ensure that an on-going dialogue takes place between the government and the stakeholders, rather than erratic one-off meetings. Earlier, stakeholders were called into committees based on specific consultations.

The members in the OEM committee will be represented by global firms such as Ericsson, Nokia, and Cisco, Indian players like HFCL, Sterlite, VVDN Technologies, and the government-owned Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DOT), among others. The TSP committee will include five telecom services firms and members from the Cellular Operators Association of India and Global System of Mobile Communi-cations Association, among others.

The academicians and telecommunications R&D committee will have representation from IIT Madras and Hyderabad, Telecom Standards Development Society, C-DOT, International Telecommunications Union Innovation Office, industry associations like Ficci, Assocham and others.

It will discuss technology promotion, enabling the R&D ecosystem and market strategies for the products developed. It will also foster industry-academia linkages, share new ideas and resolve issues.

The committee on satellite ecosystem will have members from OneWeb, Nelco, Reliance Jio and BSNL, amongst others.

The telecom sector, which received a muted response to its recent spectrum auction, needs to look into many areas. One of them is how to get BSNL/MTNL back on track by launching a pan-India 4G network, which remains limited to only some circles, followed by the launch of 5G, which has seen inordinate delays.

Another prickly issue is the battle brewing between telcos and OTT operators, with the former asking the latter to share the financial burden of their high investment in networks to ensure more bandwidth, which primarily benefit the OTTs since they are its biggest guzzlers.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India will also have to come out with recommendations on the modalities of licensing and the method of spectrum allocation for satellites, an issue over which telcos are deeply divided. Business Standard

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