NEW DELHI: The department of telecommunications (DoT) will soon come out with a set of reforms primarily aimed at simplifying the licensing process, rationalising penalties, and faster grant of spectrum for trial purposes.
Sources said that DoT also plans to launch a framework for regulatory sandbox, which will provide a lab-kind platform for startups, telecom operators, equipment manufacturers, and academia, to discover and test new use cases and innovative solutions.
The set of reforms which will be announced shortly by communications and IT minister, Ashwini Vaishnaw, are aimed at facilitating greater ease in doing business, officials said.
For instance, with regard to penalties, currently, non-compliance or violation of unified licence (UL) terms lead to a fine of up to Rs 50 crore per instance, per service area. However, DoT wants to replace this with a graded penalty structure, based on industry suggestions. In the draft telecom Bill also, the government has proposed to rationalise the penalty structure, with the highest slab of Rs 5 crore.
With regard to allocation of spectrum for trial purposes, currently, it takes around eight weeks for the DoT to grant final approval. This process may be done away with and operators may be provided spectrum once they self-certify the purpose for which the same is needed.
Similarly, the reforms will also focus on bringing transparency in actions taken on certain applications, as well as specifying exact timelines for approval of certain processes and licences, officials said.
Lately, DoT has introduced several consumer-centric reforms, helping users to detect any fraud connections issued in their names and block them, as well as track and block lost or stolen phones through Sanchar Saathi portal.
Similarly, new norms for SIM card sellers has made biometric verification as well as registration with telcos mandatory. To curb the menace of fake SIMs, the government has also barred telcos from sale of bulk SIM cards. The same can be done only for valid business entities after proper registration and individual verification of employees using those SIM cards.
In September 2021, the government had simplified a number of structural and procedural reforms to promote healthy competition, protect consumer interest, infuse liquidity, encourage investment, and reduce the regulatory burden on telecom service providers.
The reforms also included moratorium on regulatory dues of telecom operators, rationalisation of adjusted gross revenues and bank guarantees, and allowed 100% foreign direct investment through the automatic route.
Source: The Financial Express