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DoT prioritizes Telecom Act, 2023 in updated 100-day plan

The updated 100-day agenda of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) will focus on bringing in key departmental rules to administer the landmark Telecom Act, 2023, officials said.

Until such notification, large chunks of the Act cannot be implemented.

The rules relate to spectrum allotment, including satellite communications, the terms of reference (ToR) for which are being drawn up.
Subsequently, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) will begin fresh consultations on the matter.

“The idea is to frame the ToR quickly, so that Trai can begin its consultations with industry stakeholders. A lot of work on this has already been done. It will clarify the methodology of allocation, the frequencies to be used, the pricing of spectrum and the terms and conditions to be met by satellite operators with regard to national security,” a senior official said.

Satellite or orbit is a segment of radio spectrum made available when satellites are placed into orbit. A debate over whether the scarce resource should be auctioned or allocated by the government has raged for the last few years.

But the Telecommunications Act, 2023 had included satellite-based services to 19 sectors where the Centre has the right to administratively-allocated spectrum. This thereby ended the debate which had split the telecom industry.

It had named teleports, television channels, D2H, Digital Satellite News Gathering, Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) and mobile satellite services in L and S bands, among others, for spectrum allocation outside of auctions.

Unlike in auctions, an administrative allocation of spectrum will allow multiple operators to use a particular band of spectrum.

This happens since the linear nature of satellite bands at particular locations on earth can be serviced by a satellite in orbit only when it is directly positioned above it.

As it moves past the point, another satellite belonging to a different operator may pick up the band.

Inter-ministerial consultations
Efforts are also underway to finalise the rules regarding the interception of calls and messages on the grounds of national security, prevention of incitement of offences, or public order. These are to be administered on defined procedures, and in-ministerial consultations with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) are on, officials said. Business Standard

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