(GIST OF YOJANA) Regulating the Digital Revolution [DECEMBER-2018]


(GIST OF YOJANA) Regulating the Digital Revolution

[DECEMBER-2018]


Regulating the Digital Revolution

The Digital Revolution is often called as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the first three being the steam age of science and Mass production, and computers. World over, the Digital Revolution is driving the socio-economic and technological growth of the human race. The revolution is driven by various factors like the availability of high-speed Internet, innovative products and services, the need for efficient management and distribution of resource both by the Government as well as private entities, the user’s ubiquitous requirement of remaining connected at all times etc.
The entire gamut of Digital Transformation is to provide innovative products and services to improve productivity and efficiency. The connectivity to the digital devices would be predominantly provided by the telecom networks; hence the Telecom Sector would be the key growth engine driving the Digital Revolution.

Challenges

During the past two decades, the world has witnessed an unprecedented growth in technology. The advancement in technology has; on the one hand, provide the consumer services and devices which were earlier perceived as fiction; and on the other posed new challenges in the regulatory environment. A major portion of the Application and services that are being developed are based on the mobile connectivity, hence the role of Telecom Service providers as well as the Regulators becomes more and more challenging. The regulators have the onerous responsibility of maintaining a balance between encouraging innovation, protecting consumer, creating an environment for orderly growth of industry as well as address unintended consequences of disruptions.

Emerging technologies, along with the fast pace of commercialization of these technologies, has broken the popular myth that the regulations can be made deliberately at a slower pace and would be in place unchanged for a long time. The Regulator today can no longer afford to be lagging in the technology development curve. The challenges faced by the tradition regulation can be broadly classified into:

Business Challenges: These could be the Pacing problem i.e. a slow pace of regulation may become irrelevant very soon while a regulation released early may discourage innovation. Another issue that is of importance is the disruptive business models wherein the businesses may require intervention/regulation by multiple regulators. Technological Challenges: These are far too many and are dynamic in nature i.e. issues related to Data, Digital Privacy and Security, Data Ownership, AI-based challenges etc.

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One of the major challenges in the telecom sector today is to simultaneously regulate the legacy as well as the new digital networks. This requires framing of new set of regulations and frameworks that facilitate seamless co-existence as well as smooth migration. India is the second largest market in the world. Though a large number of initiatives have been undertaken both by the Government as well as the private sector but still a large population remains devoid of connectivity to the internet. Spreading awareness as well as connecting every individual is keys to the socio-economic metamorphosis of our country. As new business models and services emerge, government agencies are expected to create or modify regulations, enforce them and communicate the same to the environment at faster pace. The Regulator is not only entrusted with the responsibility to ensure the compatibility of the new technology with the legacy frameworks but also foster innovation on the other.

Regulations should be adaptive: A rigid Regulatory framework may prove to be detrimental to innovation as well as the growth of industry. An adaptive regulatory regime would foster innovation, provide a platform for the industry to grow, enhance user satisfaction, provide consumer protection and help the government to regulate. Use of Regulatory Sandboxes: Impact assessment of regulation on the technologies may be studied before issuing the Regulations. Collaborative Regulations: As brought out earlier, services and products today may require regulation by multiple Regulatory bodies; hence a collaborative Regulatory approach would have to be adopted.

A Regulator, therefore, has to be aware of the current state of regulations world over, know the right time to regulate, know the right approach to regulate and have an adaptive approach towards emerging technologies.

Conclusion:

The Telecom sector is witnessing the biggest transformation in the past several decades, new technologies and services based on mobile connectivity, social media, data-analytic; cloud computing etc are being designed today. These technologies and services have blurred geographical boundaries, created exciting business models. Created job opportunities, empowered the citizens and attracted world telecom leaders to India. TRAI had a very important role today in not only regulating the Digital revolution in the telecom sector but also be a front-runner in adaptively regulating emerging technologies.

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