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Draft Indian Telecom Bill, 2022

Draft Telecom Bill- Relevance for UPSC Exam

  • GS Paper 2: Governance, Administration and Challenges
    • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Draft Indian Telecom Bill, 2022 -_3.1

 

Draft Indian Telecommunication Bill in News

  • Draft Indian Telecommunication Bill, 2022 was recently prepared by the Ministry of Communications, Government of India based on the consultation from various stakeholders and industry associations.
  • To facilitate further consultations, an Explanatory note to provide a brief overview of the Draft Telecom Bill has also been prepared.

 

 

Draft Telecom Bill 2022

  • Background: the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) issued the draft Indian Telecommunication Bill, 2022 in a bid to do away with British-era laws governing the telecom sector.
  • About: The Draft Indian Telecommunication Bill is being enacted to bring in sweeping changes to how the telecom sector is governed, primarily by giving the Centre more powers in several areas to do so.
  • Aim: Through Draft Indian Telecom Bill, centre aims to consolidate and amend the existing laws governing the provision, development, expansion and operation of telecommunication services, telecom networks and infrastructure, in addition to assignment of spectrum.

 

 

Key Features of the Draft Telecom Bill 2022

  • Consolidation of Existing Laws: The Draft Telecom 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.
  • Broadening the Definition of Telecom Services: by inclusion of new-age over-the-top communication services like WhatsApp, Signal and Telegram in the definition of telecommunication services.
    • As per the draft law, providers of telecommunication services will be covered under the licensing regime, and will be subjected to similar rules as other telecom operators.
  • Diluting TRAI’s Recommendatory Powers: The current Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act (TRAI Act) mandates the telecom department to seek the regulator’s views before issuing a new licence to a service provider.
    • The proposed Telecom Bill does away with this provision.
    • It has also removed the provision that empowered TRAI to request the government to furnish information or documents necessary to make this recommendation.
    • Additionally, the new Bill also proposes to remove the provision where if the DoT cannot accept TRAI’s recommendations or needs modification, it had to refer back the recommendation for reconsideration by TRAI.
  • On Bankruptcy or Insolvency: The Draft Telecom Bill proposed that if a telecom entity in possession of spectrum goes through bankruptcy or insolvency, the assigned spectrum will revert to the control of the Centre.
    • So far, in insolvency proceedings, there has been a lack of clarity on whether the spectrum owned by a defaulting operator belongs to the Centre, or whether banks can take control of it.
    • The draft Bill also accords the Centre powers to defer, convert into equity, write off or grant relief to any licensee under extraordinary circumstances, including financial stress, consumer interest, and maintaining competition, among other things.
  • Creation of Telecommunication Development Fund (TDF): Draft Indian Telecommunication Bill 2022 also proposes to replace the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) with the Telecommunication Development Fund (TDF).
    • TDF aims to boost connectivity in underserved urban areas, R&D, skill development, etc.

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) | Decision Making, Functions, and Key Powers

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) | Decision Making, Functions, and Key Powers

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