TRAI Initiates Consultation on Digital Inclusion to Bridge Access Gaps

On 14th September, 2023, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) released a Consultation Paper on ‘Digital Inclusion in the Era of Emerging Technologies’, inviting input from stakeholders.

Key Points

  • Robust Policy Framework Needed: TRAI underscores the need for a robust policy framework and collaborative efforts among stakeholders to facilitate individuals' participation in digital economic activities, ensuring an inclusive digital landscape.
  • India's Digital Transformation: Government initiatives like Digital India, National Digital Communications Policy 2018, National Broadband Mission 2019, BharatNet, Common Service Centres (CSCs), and the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) have played pivotal roles in expanding connectivity and promoting digital inclusion nationwide.
  • Success of Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI): Initiatives like the Jan Dhan-Aadhaar-Mobile (JAM) trinity have facilitated transparent direct benefit transfers to the underserved's bank accounts.
  • UPI (Unified Payments Interface) has empowered users to conveniently transfer money in real-time between bank accounts.
  • Addressing Disparities: Despite these achievements, disparities in internet broadband penetration and effective usage persist across different sections of society and regions.
  • Concerns revolve around accessibility, affordability, and safe usage of broadband services and applications, particularly by marginalized communities, women, girls, and micro or small entrepreneurs in remote areas.
  • Challenges with Emerging Technologies: The rapid advancement of technologies like 5G, Artificial Intelligence, and Machine Learning, along with associated costs, can exacerbate the digital divide, especially for marginalized communities and underserved regions.
  • Unequal access to infrastructure, limited digital literacy, and affordability challenges may hinder the equitable distribution and utilization of these emerging technologies.