The Telecoms Ministry has launched a consultation paper on overhauling telecom rules mainly to keep pace with evolving technologies like 5G, simplify laws and promote investment, according to an official document.
The new rules will not apply with retroactive effect to cause a negative impact on the entity concerned, according to the consultation document.
“A new telecommunications law should aim to establish a future-proof framework for the development of the telecommunications sector and the deployment of new technologies. Such a law must consolidate existing laws governing the telecommunications sector, while keeping in mind global best practices,” the consultation document dated July 23 states.
The government has proposed that the new framework be written in clear and plain language so that any citizen can understand the rules.
The proposed law should provide adequate provisions to ensure regulatory certainty and promote investment.
“This would mean the continuity of licenses and authorizations under the old regime. To minimize political disruption, such legislation should provide for the maintenance of rules, directives and administrative orders issued under the existing regime until they are superseded by new rules. In addition, a new law must guarantee that the terms and conditions will not be modified with retroactive effect. effect to the detriment of the entity concerned,” the newspaper said.
The proposal comes at a time when the country is preparing to launch a spectrum auction for the deployment of 5G services.
Alongside existing players such as Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio and Vodafone Idea, Adani Group has applied to bid for the airwaves and enter the wireless telecommunications services business.
The government has offered to come up with rules for the return of spectrum that was missing from the existing framework and entities that have closed down or are in the process of being liquidated have not been able to profit from their possession of spectrum.
In the new framework, the government plans to relax the penal provisions and make them proportionate to the offences.
DoT officials are currently imposing the highest allowable penalty of Rs 50 crore per offense to avoid any alleged bias in their work and protect against any subjective interpretation by law enforcement or auditors.
The government is seeking 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 DoT has set August 25 as the deadline for commenting on the consultation paper.