Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has released the recommendations on ‘Ease of Doing Business in Telecom and Broadcasting Sector.’
Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) has been identified as one of the focus areas of Government in the recent decade. EoDB is a recognition of the fact that business and enterprise need to be enabled. Government is striving to improve the business environment at every stage across all the sectors. As a sector Regulator, it is incumbent upon TRAI to improve the business environment in the telecom and broadcasting sector.
The TRAI has suo-moto floated a Consultation paper on “Ease of Doing Business in telecom and Broadcasting Sector” on December 08, 2021. Previously, it undertook EoDB consultation mainly specific to DoT and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB). However, the current exercise spans across multiple ministries/departments. The EoDB requires comprehensive review of end-to-end processes with ‘Whole of the government’ approach. One application – one window should suffice for all Inter-ministerial approvals.
Written comments and counter-comments on the Consultation Paper were invited from the stakeholders by February 09, 2022 and February 23,2022 respectively. The Authority received 45 comments and four counter comments from various stakeholders. All these comments and counter comments are available on the TRAI website www.trai.gov.in. An Open House Discussion (OHD) was also convened on the issues raised in the Consultation Paper on April 21, 2022 through online mode.
This comprehensive exercise on EoDB entailed deeper analysis. The application process, compliance process, information submission and payment process through the life-cycle of licenses have been studied. Questions like ‘what’ and ‘why’ for each of the process have been raised. Keeping with its tradition, the TRAI displayed all comments and counter-comments on its website. It is heartening to note that some policy makers have actively pursued the stakeholders’ pain points. The TRAI team engaged with the respective officers/officials. This collaborative and conciliatory approach has already started helping policy makers to identify redundant processes/ information. Already, quite-a-few reforms have been undertaken by Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and MIB. These initiatives are praiseworthy.
The EoDB is not a one-time activity. It is a continuous process. Therefore, the TRAI, through these recommendations, proposes the establishment of a standing committee with focus on EoDB. It remains committed to create and nurture conditions for orderly growth of the two sectors. The recommendations strive to create a process-based approach on EoDB. The TRAI envisions that such an eco-system will pave way for a periodic review and further reforms. The quick implementation of these recommendations will engender growth of these sectors.
The salient features of these recommendations are as below:
A user-friendly, transparent and responsive digital single window system based portal should be established. The portal should be enabled with new digital technologies for achieving end-to-end inter-departmental online processes.
Each Ministry should establish a standing EoDB Committee to regularly review, simplify and update the existing processes and ensure ease of doing business as an on-going activity.
MIB, DoT, DOS, MeitY and other agencies should specify stage-wise timelines for all the processes including initial as well as additional permissions, which should be mentioned in the respective Guidelines/ policy and updated in the Citizen Charter.
The Government may consider and grant ‘Infrastructure Status’ to ‘Broadcasting and Cable Services Sector’.
WPC should charge the spectrum royalty fee for temporary uplinking of live events on pro-rata basis for actual number of days of the event.
Further for enablement of LCOs:
- A simple mobile app should be developed by MIB for registration of LCOs. Request for cancellation before five years should also be enabled.
- The RoW portal (“GatiShakti Sanchar Portal”) should incorporate all the service providers including LCOs. The DoT should enable RoW approvals for LCOs also in consultation with MIB. A hyperlink/ button icon should be provided on the portal and app to reach the RoW portal.
- The MIB should maintain common database of registered LCOs. List of the registered LCOs should also be made available to the public at large.
In terms and conditions of the DoT License Agreement for Unified License:
- The lawful interception monitoring demonstration of a new service in a single network may take place centrally at one LSA/ location.
- There should be a module in the single window portal to comply with the end-to-end requirements of rollout obligation process.
- The process of request for Remote Access to network from foreign locations, and approval by DoT should be made online and time-bound.
For reducing the compliance burden on ISPs:
- Government may revise the periodicity for submission by the ISPs for providing the details of ISP Nodes or Points of Presence (PoP) with their locations and number of broadband/ leased/ dial up subscribers to once every year.
- The website blocking process should be incorporated on the single window portal.
For laying and repair of submarine cables:
- Submarine cable laying and repair in Indian Territorial Water and Exclusive Economic Zones (‘EEZ’) of India and Cable Landing Stations in India should be classified as ‘Critical and Essential services’.
- Permissions of laying, operations and maintenance of submarine cables network should also be made online as a part of SaralSanchar portal.
- A committee should review the international best practices and feasibility for identifying and declaring special corridor in Indian marine context.
- The process of surrender of DoT license, issuance of NOC and release of Bank Guarantees to the service providers should be made simple, online and time-bound.
100% verification of LF and SUC should be replaced with sample base deduction verification based on appropriate scientific statistical model. 1. Submission of CAFs by the TSPs to the DoT LSAs should be made online. For CAF, DoT may consider reducing sample size in consultation with the Ministry of Statistics and Program Implementation.
Nomenclature of the frequency licensing process of WPC should be modified and termed as ‘Frequency Assignment’. Accordingly, terms and conditions should be amended. After SACFA clearance and NOCC carrier plan approval, a single Frequency Assignment letter should be issued by WPC. LoI, Decision Letter, WOL and Uplink Permission by NOCC should be eliminated. The frequency assignment letter should be considered as a final permission to commence services.
Requirement of additional SACFA clearance for same mobile network site/ tower location should be replaced with intimation on the SaralSanchar portal.
The process of getting scrutiny-based Equipment Type Approval (ETA) from WPC should be made online and time-bound. A definite timeline should be prescribed with the provision of deemed approval.
DoT should formulate a working group to study and exempt ETA/ Import License for devices having wireless sensors emitting very low power below a prescribed level.
For MTCTE scheme, a committee comprising of two members each from: (i) TEC, (ii) OEM, (iii) Service providers and (iv) Consumers. The members of the committee should be appointed on rotational basis. The Committee should revisit the mode of compliance for testing of products and consider modular implementation of product testing.
Government should incentivize setting up of labs in India and should do lab assessment before notifying new phases of MTCTE.
To avoid duplicity in testing of telecommunications products DoT should constitute a standing committee comprising two senior level officers of Joint Secretary level each from i) MeitY, ii) DoT WPC, iii) TEC, iv) BIS and v) Two representatives from product manufacturers. The committee should clearly identify a single testing scheme under which the product needs to be tested.
The DOS should publish a list of Indian satellites details and the capacity availability and approved foreign satellites/satellite systems, their orbital locations, transponders and frequency availability and their other technical and security parameters on the single window portal.
MeitY in consultation with BIS should define stage-wise timelines for registration under Compulsory Registration Scheme in respect of product certification.