The industry is encouraged by the contents of the Telecom Bill 2023 tabled in the Lok Sabha by Ashwini Vaishnaw, Minister for Communications, Electronics & Information Technology.
The industry associations have applauded the move. Comments received from Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), Digital Infrastructure Providers Association (DIPA), Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), and Indian Space Association (ISpA):
“COAI welcomes the Telecommunications Bill, 2023, tabled in the Parliament today. The bill introduced by our progressive Telecom Minister Shri Ashwini Vaishnaw Ji, includes focus on creating robust telecom networks through a well-defined Chapter on Right of Way (RoW), including granting of RoW in a non- discriminatory manner and clarifying that this network shall not be considered for the purposes of tax, levy, cess, fees or duties on that property.
In the bill, ‘license’ has been replaced by authorization’, wherein it has been specified that authorization would be required to provide telecommunication services. This would simplify overall regulatory landscape for telecom services.
Further, the bill incorporates strict provisions in case of unlawful interception of messages or unauthorized access to the same, to help ensure national security.
The bill also lays down that Internet shutdowns can be authorized only by the Central Government, which is objective and looks at ensuring continued, uninterrupted and seamless telecom connectivity to all?” Lt. Gen. Dr. S.P. Kochhar, Director General.
“The provisions in the bill will bring uniformity across states in terms of Right of Way (RoW) rules and regulations, along with rates. They will also address long-standing issues for telecom infrastructure providers, including capping of charges, deemed approval, and deployment of telecom infrastructure on private property.
The bill aims to ensure the continuity of authorization and provides for the continuation of rules, guidelines, and administrative orders issued under the existing regime.” TR Dua, Director-General, Digital Infrastructure Providers Association (DIPA).
“IAMAI hails the bill as progressive especially since internet companies have been decisively kept out of the ambit of the final version of the bill. IAMAI had recommended that the ambit of the bill be limited to the network layer, thereby excluding the application layer.
The time-tested distinction between telecom spectrum controlling entities (which are regulated) and spectrum using companies should be maintained as it has been the basis that has allowed innovation and deeper penetration of the internet in India.” Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI).
“It’s a historic day and we wholeheartedly welcome this progressive and most forward-looking decision by the government to table the Telecom Bill taking the route of allocation of satellite spectrum administratively.
This decision to allocate the satellite spectrum through a globally harmonized administrative method will pose a greater good for the nation and will spur growth in the nascent space sector, foster healthy competition, and ensure a level playing field for all stakeholders involved. The satellite-based communication networks have a huge potential that can transform India into a truly digital and developed economy. By allocating the spectrum by administrative method for satcom, India could align itself with international standards, promote global cooperation and also help drive innovation, create opportunities for startups, and strengthen the country’s position in the global satellite market. This would also spur growth in all downstream sectors of space providing impetus to the space economy in India.” Lt. Gen. AK Bhatt (Retd.), Director General, Indian Space Association (ISpA).