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DoT plans six-month wait for new rules notification

The Department of telecommunications is likely to take at least six months before it begins notifying rules under the Telecommunications Act 2023 that came into effect in December 2023, a senior official said, citing the need to “grandfather” several of the existing licences under the new rules.

About 39 rules have been formulated under the Act that will replace three archaic laws – the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, the Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1933 and the Telegraph Wires (Unlawful Possession) Act, 1950. Several provisions under these old laws will continue under the new law even as new provisions get added.

New laws and licences
“The new law covers much more than what the earlier laws used to cover. Some licences that have been given in the last six to seven years will remain active as per rules of the older Acts. It has to be ensured that they continue and the new laws don’t create any conflict, that itself will take a lot of time. So, not all rules will get notified in six months, it can take upto a year for all of them to be harmonized,” the official said, asking not to be named.

The official also noted that new provisions on right of way, consumer protection and assignment of spectrum would have to be included in the rules. Assignment of spectrum related to satellite broadband communications will also get delayed as the telecom department will first send a reference to the telecom regulator for a fresh consultation among stakeholders on the airwaves and the process of allocation. Following the regulator’s recommendation the allocation of airwaves in the category will take place and will be embodied in the rules.

A second official said that the rules would also have to take into account any legal changes that may occur during the course of events. These would have to be codified into the rules accordingly.

“It has to be ensured that once the rules are made, they’re not liable to being challenged by anyone, either on the grounds that the new rules are not consistent with the old ones, or that it is discriminatory in any way or that it prevents creation of a level playing field. All of this has to be kept in mind before the rules are notified,” the official added. Livemint

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