Draft Indian Telecommunication Bill,2022

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Source: The post is based on the article Draft Indian Telecommunication Bill,2022published in PIB on 22nd September 2022.

Present Status: Open for public consultation.
What is the News?

The Department of Telecommunications(DoT) has issued the draft Indian Telecommunication Bill, 2022. 

What is the purpose of the Draft Indian Telecommunication Bill, 2022?

The Bill consolidates three separate acts that govern the telecommunications sector — Indian Telegraph Act 1885, Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act 1933, and The Telegraph Wires, (Unlawful Protection) Act 1950.

What are the key provisions of the Bill?

Inclusion of OTTs in the definition of Telecommunications services: The Bill proposes to bring over-the-top (or OTT) communications services such as WhatsApp, Telegram, satellite-based communication services and the internet into the definition of telecommunication services.

– So, OTT communication services have to take a license now and be subjected to the same conditions governing telecom players in India, like the quality of service and security rules, etc.

Assigning of Spectrum: The Bill laid down a clear statutory framework and regulations on assigning spectrum. It says spectrum should primarily be given through auction. 

– For specific functions related to the government and public interest like defence, transportation and research, the Bill proposes assignment through the administrative process.

Trading of Spectrum: The Bill enables sharing, trading, leasing, surrender of spectrum assigned and a process to return unutilised spectrum.

– The government will also have the power to terminate spectrum allocations partly or in full if it determines that the assigned spectrum has remained unutilised for insufficient reasons over a period of time.

— Moreover, the bill says that if a telecom entity in possession of spectrum goes through bankruptcy or insolvency, the assigned spectrum will revert to the control of the Center. 

Right of Way(ROW): The Bill tries to achieve through law a ‘right of way’ (ROW) enforceable at the state- and at the municipal-corporation level.

– It lays down a framework in which a public entity that owns the land has to grant ‘right of way’ permission expeditiously unless it gives a substantive ground for refusal.

Cyber Security: To prevent cyber fraud, the Bill provides that the identity of the person sending a message through telecom services shall be available to a user receiving it.

Telecommunication Development Fund(TDF): The Bill proposes to replace the Universal Service Obligation Fund(USOF) with the Telecommunication Development Fund(TDF). 

– USOF is the pool of funds generated by the 5% Universal Service Levy that is charged upon all telecom fund operators on their Adjusted Gross Revenue. 

– The USOF has largely been used to aid rural connectivity. However, with the TDF, the objective is also to boost connectivity in underserved urban areas, R&D, skill development etc.

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