Autonomous cars are no longer just the realm of science fiction – and the social and economic implications are enormous. Cars with basic autonomous capability are in showrooms today, semi autonomous cars are coming in 12-18 months, and completely autonomous cars are set to be available before the end of the decade. Beyond the practical benefits, it is estimated that autonomous cars can contribute $1.3 trillion in annual savings to the US economy alone, with global savings estimated over $5.6 trillion. There will undoubtedly be bumps in the journey – including issues of liability, infrastructure support, technical, regulatory, consumer acceptance and even pricing/ penetration. After all the conventional automobile industry has been around for 110 years and the disruption in terms of performance will take time. On the other hand, climate related issues, gasoline prices, lower costs of running will be key to faster acceptance. There would be obstacles, but none of these currently appear to be insurmountable.
It is refreshing to see the course of action that you have been taking to put India and Indian Economy back on track. Knowing that your time is precious, i would keep this short and to the point. I write this letter with a four pointer action plan as the road-map for the recovery of telecom sector in India. While i would avoid playing cliche, the background to all this is how telecom/ broadband penetration is directly associated with GDP acceleration and inclusive growth of the economy. Out of the very many reports that substantiate this fact, the IAMAI ICRIER report on Internet’s impact on the Indian economy suggests a $17B p.a boost to Indian economy basis broadband basis the fact that 10% increment in broadband penetration can increase GDP by 1.08%.It is believed that if the TRAI broadband roadmap 2012 targets are met, it would generate $87B to Indian economy within 2012-14 time-frame.
The policy paralysis from 2011-2014 coupled with disputes on spectrum and spectrum-pricing, retrospective taxes has arrested the growth of telecom sector – and now with a stable governance building up for next 5 years, it is expected that you would be instrumental in resolving not only the immediate issues but provide a long term vision of growth of this sector. With due respect sir, may i beg to put a few pointers to the long term needs and hence the roadmap of the industry.
The right horse and the right cart
1. While spectrum related regulations need a cobweb cleaning – it is important that the roapmap takes into account the right spectrum for telecommunications. By right spectrum, i would mean the 450 MHz and 700MHzDD bands to be put in pace. With 4G in place, if the right spectrum support is provided to the ISPs/ operators, it will give a huge boost to providing high speed broadband not only to urban centres but also to rural areas. The economic effects of putting the right spectrum and the right technology together in the long runs outweighs any immediate hassles that need to be undertaken for setting this prescription in place.
Dont put the cart before the horse
2. Growth and Governance would need to walk side by side. One cannot follow the other. While governance would need to make monies and admissibly so, retrospective actions, arbitration and taxes would need to be side stepped. A very just economic model for spectrum auctions could involve – Low CAPEX (auction rates) and higher OPEX (Revenue shares) with operators.
A few horses for inclusive development through broadband
3. A phased project scoping of telecommunication projects with critical KPIs – which could be based on social parameters, such as education, healthcare, community care powered by broadband could also be a very apt in driving inclusive and sustained growth – could also lead to interesting results. Such a project would need to be driven from the PMO in terms of a large scale integration with ministries, states and operators
The race winning horse cannot have too many jockeys
4. Last but not the least, there has to be one apex body on Telecom, suitably represented by Telcos, Telecom infra companies, other telecom eco-system players, ministries, consulting bodies and the officials. We would need to do away with too many such bodies (including the now dissolved EGOM) and too many voices and opinions (often contradicting) – and need one apex body for the industry.
I am sure, with your wisdom and perspective, many and most of these points would be in your agenda. While there are other priorities that you may right fully have, this four pointer could be a good starting point for cleaning up the Telecom muddle in the country.
(Views expressed in this blog are solely mine with no affinity or bias towards anyone)
If your believe that Broadband penetration is the messiah-like solution or the panacea to a lot of 3rd world nation issues and problems, there is good news and there is bad news. The good news is that you haven’t been thinking alone – the International Telecommunications Union has firm evidence of the positive impact of (higher) broadband penetration on the economic well being and growth of nations.
Expostulating the (positive) impact of broadband on economy of the state, the ITU states that-
First, broadband exhibits a higher contribution to economic growth in countries that have a higher adoption of the technology (this could be labelled the “critical mass” or “return to scale” theory”).
Second, broadband has a stronger productivity impact in sectors with high transaction costs, such as financial services, or high labour intensity, such as tourism and lodging.
Third, in less developed regions, as postulated in economic theory, broadband enables the adoption of more efficient business processes and leads to capital-labour substitution and, therefore loss of jobs (this could be labelled the “productivity shock theory”).
Fourth, the impact of broadband on small and medium enterprises takes longer to materialize due to the need to restructure the firms’ processes and labour organization in order to gain from adopting the technology (this is called “accumulation of intangible capital”).
Finally, the economic impact of broadband is higher when promotion of the technology is combined with stimulus of innovative businesses that are tied to new applications. In other words, the impact of broadband is neither automatic nor homogeneous across the economic system.
So much so for the obvious – but then whats the bad news: Just that broadband by itself is not the end all prescription to everything – the effect of broadband is not homogeneous across all industry groups and broadband’s positives are possibly more applicable to industries classified as under Information, Communication and Entertainment. There would have to be some bridge building for industries, which are little off-centred from the direct broadband benefits – and again, these pose interesting bundle of opportunities to businesses and entrepreneurs.