The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s powers have been diluted in a draft telecom bill released for consultation by the Department of Telecommunications, according to an analysis by the Broadband India Forum. TRAI met with government officials to discuss this issue, and even reportedly plans on approaching the Prime Minister’s Office to present its case.
Entrackr has obtained a two-page filing by TRAI to a DoT pre-consultation that was held before the draft bill was released. In the document, the regulator said that it was already working on a consultation paper to address the issues DoT is seeking to legislate for, and cited meetings with industry it had held on the subject.
“TRAI is already in the process of preparing and issuing a comprehensive consultation paper covering various issues related to policy and regulation for facilitating convergence of Telecommunication and Broadcasting,” Sanjay Kumar, Joint Advisor (BB & PA), wrote in a submission on August 31.
“As the issues related to the legal framework for the telecommunication sector now encompass convergence of Telecommunication and Broadcasting, it may be necessary to widen the scope of the consultation process beyond the Indian Telegraph Act, Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act and Telegraph Wires (Unlawful Possession) Act,” Kumar wrote. “This requirement […] was also brought out by various stakeholders in a recent brain-storming session with the service providers and industry associations of Telecommunications and Broadcasting Sectors, held by TRAI on 01.08.2022, at New Delhi.”
TRAI also cited inputs it had sent to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on IT and NITI Aayog on the subject (these enclosures were not provided to Entrackr; we have filed for a copy).
“Further, TRAI has already sent a comprehensive proposal for amendments of TRAI Act, 1997 to DoT duly taking into account regulatory practices being followed in other regulatory bodies in India as well as in telecom regulatory bodies in many countries across the world,” TRAI said. It is unclear what this comprehensive proposal is; the TRAI letter does not mention when it sent such a representation.
The last reported instance of DoT considering an amendment to the TRAI Act was in 2013. While the TRAI Act was indeed amended in 2014, that amendment was relatively minor, only focusing on the tenure of the chairperson. Entrackr has filed for a copy of the proposed amendments.
(This article is part of our coverage on responses to a pre-consultation by the Department of Telecommunications on a new telecom legislative framework. A subsequent consultation for a draft telecom bill is currently underway. You can read our coverage of other comments here: American Chamber of Commerce in India, Jio, and Airtel.)