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The Ministry of Telecommunications has released a consultation paper on overhauling telecom rules to keep pace with changes in technology such as 5G, simplify laws and encourage investment, an official document said.
According to the consultation document, the new rules will not be applicable retroactively, which would have an adverse impact on the relevant entity.
“A new telecommunications law must focus on creating a framework to enable the future development of the telecommunications industry and the introduction of new technologies. Such a law must unify existing laws governing the telecommunications sector while taking into account global best practices,” the July 23 consultation document said.
The government proposed that the new framework should be drafted in clear and simple language so that every citizen can understand the rules.
The proposed law is expected to provide adequate provisions to ensure regulatory certainty and encourage investment.
“It would mean continuity of licenses and authorizations under the old regime. To minimize policy disruption, such a law must ensure the continuation of the rules, guidelines, administrative orders issued under the existing regime until they are superseded by new rules. In addition, the new law needs to ensure that conditions are not retroactively changed to the detriment of the relevant entity,” the paper stated.
The proposal comes as the country prepares to launch a spectrum auction to roll out 5G services.
Along with existing players like Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio and Vodafone Idea, Adani Group bid for radio broadcasting and entered the business of wireless telecom services.
The government proposed to draw up rules for handing over the spectrum, which was missing in the current framework, and entities that have ceased operations or are in liquidation could not benefit from the possession of the spectrum.
Under the new framework, the government plans to soften criminal provisions and align them with crimes.
Transport Ministry officials are currently giving the maximum permissible fine of Rs 50 million per offense to avoid alleged bias in their work and save their necks from any subjective interpretation by law enforcement agencies or auditors.
The government is trying to expand the scope of Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) funding from only rural telecommunications projects to urban areas, including research and development projects, training activities, etc.
The Ministry of Transport has set August 25 as the last date for comments on the consultation document.