"-- The government should also facilitate introduction of new and efficient technologies such as machine 2 machine and cloud computing as these lower cost of services and will be key to development of the small and medium entreprises sector."
By Aparajita Gupta

New Delhi, May 18 - The IT and telecom industry stakeholders are expecting policy stability, better technology enabled e-governance and technology adoption from the new Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the coming days.

The most critical thing for the new government will be to bring the industry back on firm financial footings. The industry is under a debt pressure after the recent spectrum auctioning in February, there are a lot of penalty charges on many companies; the financial picture is not so good, Rajan S Mathews, director general, Cellular Operators' Association of India (COAI), told IANS.

We are hopeful that the new government will aid us in helping maintain a long-term clear, stable, predictable, development-oriented and investor friendly policy regime, which recognizes the long term nature of the investments and long project maturity requirements of the telecom sector. The key areas of long-term policy focus are stable licence terms and conditions, effective merger and acquisition, security, green telecom targets, taxation and roadmap for future technologies, he said.

Others feel the telecom sector in the recent past had gone through a bad phase due to second generation (2G) issue, cancellation of licences and tariff hikes and now with the new government there is a chance to inject fresh momentum into the sector.

After being the darling of foreign investors and the poster child of economic growth, Indian telecom fell from grace over the past few years due to corruption scandals, cancelled licences, tax disputes, debt crises and tariff hikes; now there is a chance to inject fresh momentum into the sector, Mohammad Chowdhury, telecom leader, PwC India, said.

He said in the first 100 days in office the new government should give voice to the masses. With rural telecom penetration well below 50 percent, the new government should take a fresh look at encouraging the industry to put more money into rural network expansion.

Narendra Modi has always advocated increased use of technology in governance and digital literacy. With the BJP in power, they can aggressively promote technology adoption among different stakeholders, foster technology enabled e-governance initiating citizen-government interface which has direct synergies and linkages to manufacturing, spurring market growth, employment and standard of living, said a Manufacturers' Association of Information Technology (MAIT) spokesperson.

MAIT represents hardware, training, research and development and hardware design, and other associated service segments of the Indian IT Industry.

The Indian IT-ITeS sector would be happy to have a stable government and they would be keenly expecting the government to offer them the following in the near-term - a conducive ecosystem for carrying out business, a fairly straightforward regulatory framework, skill development initiatives and tax incentives to boost smaller firms and product startups, which are seen as the growth drivers for the sector, said Sandeep Ladda, India technology leader, PwC India.

Here are some other expectations from the government:

--Regaining the faith of investors: The government should make available to the industry all spectrum in all the bands (like, 2,100 MHz, 1,800 MHz, 800 MHz and 700 MHz) at present lying unutilised by various government agencies

--For enabling world class data services in the country, the telecom industry requires regulatory, tax and policy stability, development of infrastructure - such as power and towers, availability of adequate spectrum and customer centricity (affordable tariffs and gadgets, customized content, etc.)

--Expansion and better penetration of mobile-enabled services like m-health and mobile money

--More e-governance initiatives across the country to provide an opportunity for the sector to improve its domestic market growth

--Technology enabled e-governance initiating citizen-government interface

-- The government should also facilitate introduction of new and efficient technologies such as machine 2 machine and cloud computing as these lower cost of services and will be key to development of the small and medium entreprises sector.

(Aparajita Gupta can be contacted at [email protected])


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