(GIST OF YOJANA) Regulating the Digital
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.
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.
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.
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.