India's Telecom Minister last month unveiled the draft telecom policy for India with the vision to use the telecom network as one of the enablers for inclusive growth. In his words, "In achieving the goals of national telecom policy 2011, revenue generation will play a secondary role." The telecom policy proposals garnered praise as a vision document, but it remains to be seen how pragmatic implementation steps are taken to make the vision come alive.
The call for pan-India licenses will create seamless, nationwide service with no charges on roaming between different circles. The new policy looks to take mobile number portability (MNP) to the next level by allowing users to retain the same number anywhere in India. In addition, the policy seeks to provide stronger consumer protection and a higher level of service accountability. The complaint redressal mechanism is set to be strengthened once the policy is adopted and implemented.
Focus on retention
Telecom operators will need to strengthen their customer-care processes and systems to meet the additional needs as the customer base matures into a retention-focused model rather than only on growth. BSS/OSS vendors will have the opportunity to provide targeted solutions to cater to the rule changes in roaming charges, settlements processes and develop related MIS to assist operators deliver business results effectively.
A second area of focus is on broadband for everyone. The proposed policy seeks to increase rural penetration from 35% to 60% and drive the effort to create a knowledge-based society. This will likely give incentives to operators to work with players across the mobile ecosystem, including CPE manufacturers and content hosting providers covering entertainment, education, health, governance and commerce. This is vital to promote growth and ensure commercial success for ICT players, including network operators, equipment manufacturers and content developers.
The promotion of content creation, particularly in vernacular languages, will help drive regional content creation and delivery with the twin objectives of reaching a wider audience and ensuring growth of internet access.
The policy also calls for domestic vendors to get preferential market access as "Made in India", which will encourage technology collaboration and products designed to cater to the unique needs of the India market.