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Digital empowerment for all key to New National Telecom Policy: Minister

New Delhi, Dec 13 (UNI) The new National Telecom Policy - 2018 will ensure all its 1.3 billion citizens are digitally empowered, the Union Minster of State for Communications Manoj Sinha said on Wednesday.
Speaking at the valedictory session of the 3rd International Annual Satcom summit ‘India SatCom-2017 organised by Broadband India Forum here, the Communications Minister said as a part of its technology agnostic policy, the government will pay significant attention to satellite communications which has the power and the ability to provide affordable digital connectivity to the unserved and underserved.
“The endeavor of the government is to accelerate the rollout of affordable Internet to every Indian with the use of new and innovative technologies and satellite broadband is one of the many routes that we will pay more attention to,” he said.
Mr Sinha said to ensure that the country meet its goals of achieving Digital India, enabling Smart Cities or ensure 100% financial inclusion for its citizens in a timely manner, the Department of Telecommunication was taking all steps and adopting the latest technologies like satellite to meet the target.
Speaking on the occasion, Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundarajan said, digital transformation was not a luxury but a critical necessity today.
“It is in this context that the role of the upcoming National Telecom Policy 2018 becomes very significant,” she said.
She said the the Government is committed to un-locking the potential of the satellite broadband industry by providing much-needed impetus to the sector to ensure that it can augment the efforts of the wireline and wireless technologies to provide affordable and accessible broadband everywhere by connecting the unserved and the underserved and thereby help bridge the digital divide.
"We also believe that opening the sector can provide an impetus to Make-in-India and open the possibility of additional jobs in a high growth and high-tech sector,” the Telecom Secretary added.

Broadband India Forum President T.V. Ramachandran said India continues to struggle to bridge the digital divide as almost a billion Indians were still without access to the Internet,. India’s communications satellites can play an important role in bridging this divide by moving up the value chain and embracing the Ka-band platform.
Given India’s vast and extremely diverse topography comprising plains, deserts, forests and mountains, the reach of terrestrial broadband to cover every segment of population, especially those living in remote and inaccessible areas is not only difficult but also expensive, he said.
In a vast and diverse country like India, 100% broadband penetration cannot be achieved with a single technology. This requires a combination of multiple technologies that are terrain and environment agnostic.
The Summit delved into various issues including the sector’s efforts to deliver connectivity and Broadband to the remote and difficult to access parts of the country, satellite mobility, inflight connectivity, new technologies and innovations etc.
It also delved on leveraging the satellite communication technologies - existing and next generation as well, to expedite the penetration of affordable broadband in India particularly in remote and rural areas as complementary to other broadband technologies including wireline and wireless technologies.
The conference also deliberated on policy and regulation related issues to find out the way forward for deployment of Next Gen Satellite communications technologies.
The findings of the White paper released during the event highlight that the country’s continued dearth of communications satellites has severely compromised India’s ability to bridge the digital divide.
The paper also highlights that Indian communications satellites are still operating in the C and Ku band while more developed countries have moved to the higher capacity Ka band over 2 decades ago.
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