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Second draft of Telecom Bill to be released soon

Communications minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said that implementation of a substantial portion of the proposed telecom Bill will be undertaken by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and its consultative role in formulating telecom rules will continue.

“When the telecom Bill becomes law, there will be multiple agencies, which will implement it. For instance, large parts of the telecom Bill will be implemented by the TRAI, while a significant portion will be done by the ministry of information and broadcasting (MIB) and ministry of electronics and information technology (MeitY). The remaining will be undertaken by the ministry of home affairs (MHA) and the department of telecom (DoT),” said Vaishnaw, in an interview.

The statement comes in the light of concerns from some stakeholders that the proposed Bill will clip the powers of TRAI.

Vaisnhaw also said that concerns raised by the broadcasting industry on the Bill have also been resolved. “Broadcasters are happy. We had a meeting with I&B minister Anurag Thakur and everything has been resolved. They have given their written suggestions and we are incorporating them.”

Vaishnaw said that currently the MIB is regulating this sector through the Indian Telegraph Act.

So, till the government comes up with a Broadcasting Act, regulation of the broadcasting sector will happen through this Bill only. It will be the MIB that will continue to regulate it.

On the dispute between stakeholders on whether the satellite spectrum should be auctioned or not, Vaishnaw said: “This is an industry issue. Our preference is for auction. If it is possible to formulate a reasonable and fair auction process, then why should we not go for it? If it is not possible to formulate, the Bill provides a way for administrative allocation.”

Vaishnaw also stated that concerns on bringing communications OTT under the telecom Bill has also been sorted out.

“Clearly we had decided that we will regulate the communications OTT sector like Whatsapp but it would be a light-touch regulation, which focuses on user protection against cyber frauds. We have found a formulation and will put that in the second draft. Licence fee was never a part of this construct,” added Vaishnaw. Business Standard

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