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New policy reforms for satcom unveiled, 10,000 towers per week please, says minister

The government unveiled new policy reforms for satellite communications services to ease procedures and streamline clearances to expedite the rollout of satcom across the country, especially in remote areas on October 26.

The latest reforms will ease procedures and streamline clearances to expedite the rollout of satcom services, especially in remote areas. Some of the satcom-related reforms include mounting of VSAT on any mobile vehicle, self-certification of antennas, and simplified NOCC process with a single-step procedure.

The government has removed network operation and control centre charges for the use of space segments for all services like VSAT, satellite telephony, etc for which permits are issued by the department. DoT earlier levied Rs 21 lakh per transponder per annum for 36 megahertz of spectrum on a pro-rata basis as network operation and control centre (NOCC) charges.

The department also delicensed the 865-868 MHz spectrum band for IoT and M2M, 433 – 434.7MHz and 9-30MHz for wireless charging. Delicensed spectrum does not need to be auctioned, and can be allocated administratively, for a fee.

“For street furniture, SACFA clearances are not required and companies can apply on the Saral Sanchar portal by paying Rs 100. The right of way clearances have come down from 227 days to only 7 days now,” Ashwini Vaishnaw, Hon’ble Minister for Communications, Electronics & Information Technology, Government of India said. Until now, approval of the Standing Advisory Committee on Radio Frequency Allocation (SACFA) was needed for the height and location of any telecom tower.

Mandatory performance verification testing for satellite antennae fee of ₹6000 which also involved complex procedures, has been removed and process has been simplified.

Near field communication used in portable chargers and other electronics is being increasingly manufactured in India. In order to provide ease of business, all three bands for IoT, M2M, for invehicle equipment and for contactless charging, have been delicensed.

“The direction from PM is clear, we have to take the same level of digital services to the remotest of areas as they’re available in cities. Digital inclusion is a mission of the PM, all hurdles have to be removed to achieve it,” Vaishnaw said.

The Minister exhorted the industry to increase tower deployments for a speedy 5G rollout. The current pace of tower deployment needs to increase from 2,500 towers a week to 10,000 towers per week, he said. The government has done its bit in ushering in reforms, and it is now up to the industry to show its commitment, the minister added.

The minister said that telecom operators should add on at least 10,000 base trans-receiver stations (BTS) every week to speed up the spread of 5G services in the country, compared with the 2,500 base trans-receiver stations that are being added per week now. He added that 163 handset models have also been enabled with over-the-air software updates.

“The issues with the TRAI (read
have now been resolved. In the draft (Telecom Bill), we have focused on user protection, which is central to our policy making,” Vaishnaw said, adding that the department is actively consulting stakeholders.

He added that the deadline for public comments on the draft telecom Bill has been extended to November 10. The relevant standing committee has decided to take up any recommendations on the Bill in the draft stage itself, so that it can be taken straight to Parliament. One more draft of the Bill would be released after incorporating comments from all stakeholders. “We’re aiming that the bill would be passed by the Monsoon session of next year,” Vaishnaw said.

He also released National Frequency Allocation Plan-2022 (NFAP). Read

CT Bureau

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