Telecom Licenses Update: 4 Categories Proposed; Renewal Every 10 Years

The Department Of Telecom (DoT) has come up with some groundbreaking changes to the current licensing scheme for telecom operators in India which might lead to a better service for consumers. The DoT has proposed a new licensing scheme, under which four types of licences would be issued instead of the Unified Access Service License which is provided as of now:

  • Unified Licence: To be issued to service providers. Currently service providers are bound by the Unified Access Service Licence.
  • Class Licence: To be issued to VSAT service providers.

 

  • License through Authorisation

 

 

  • Broadcasting licence

 

In addition to this new licensing scheme, telecom operators would be required to renew their licenses every 10 years as the new proposal suggests that telecom licences will be given for a period of 10 years only.

According to the current licensing, operators are allowed to hold on to their licenses for a 20-year period. However, with the new licensing scheme, old operators like Bharti Airtel will have to apply for renewal as soon as their current licensing period gets over.

Mobile Number Portability Comes To Haryana, Entire India To Get MNP From Jan 20

After much fuss over Mobile Number Portability in India, the Indian Govt. finally begun the service in India starting from Haryana. At the launch event, the Communications and IT Minister of India, Mr Kapil Sibal said that the entire country would get Mobile Number Portability (MNP) from January 20, 2011.

The Union Minister for HRD, Telecom & IT, Mr Kapil Sibal (left) at the launch of mobile number portability at Rohtak in Haryana

Rohtak in Haryana became the first Indian city to get Mobile Number Portability. The Secretary of Department of Telecom told the media that MNP will intensify the competition among service providers both in respect of quantity of services and quality of service as well as in terms of tariff. He also said that the DoT is working with Mobile operators to put the system in place over the next two months.

Telecom Operators are very happy that MNP has finally been launched in India as they feel this would provide the freedom of choice to consumers and would promote fair and effective competition in the market. However it seems that not all Indian subscribers want MNP. A study a Colombo-based ICT firm revealed that 26 per cent of Bottom of the Pyramid (BOP) mobile subscribers in India would definitely not consider switching even to a cheaper package which indicates some kind of operator loyalty being present among them.

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DoT Plans To Merge Telecom Circles, Drop In Roaming Tariffs Expected

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) in India is planning for a change that will bring down roaming tariffs like anything. The DoT is considering a proposal to reduce the number of telecom circles in India from 22 to a single licence with all India coverage of a maximum of four circles.

Currently the DoT issues licence for each of the 22 circles separately. Operators are then required to install a mobile switch in each circle. This results in the operator charging customers with interconnection fees when calls are made from one circle to another. So if all the circles are merged, consumers need not pay any roaming charges.

According to a top DoT official – Keeping in view the development of technologies for catering to more traffic and more number of subscribers, we are looking at whether operators can be given the option to merge service areas. There could be either one service area covering the entire country or there could be four or five areas each, covering a specific region.

India to Get Mobile Number Portability by October 31

MNP in IndiaMobile Number Portability is one of those things which Indian mobile users have been waiting for since eons now; the other being the launch of 3G services. The launch of Mobile Number Portability (MNP) has been delayed many times in the past year, but now it seems that MNP may finally be a reality in India.

Mr. J. S. Sharma, Chairman of TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India), announced today that all mobile operators will have to enable MNP by October 31. The DOT (Department of Telecom) also said that all operators must ensure that their networks support MNP by September 1; failing which they won’t be allowed to launch any new services.

Reportedly, BSNL and MTNL’s networks are already MNP-ready and other major operators will also have to comply with MNP requirements by September 1.

Mobile Number Portability allows you to change their operator without changing their number. With the launch of MNP, operator services are expected to improve as consumers will be free to shift to any operator offering better service. Hopefully, this time around, we will actually get it.

Tough New Security Rules For Indian Telecom Operators

The DoT (Dept. of Telecommunications) in India has  laid down strict new telecom security rules which may put the onus on operators to ensure that their networks are secure from every sense. Failure to meet the new requirements can lead to carriers being 500 Million rupees and the carriers could also have their contract canceled. These rules were issued in the form of a license amendment and are intended to resolve security fears over the foreign-built networks, and in particular those from Chinese firms Huawei and ZTE.
The DoT also said that operators are completely and totally responsible for security of their networks and must conduct a security audit on each deployment of routers, switches, VoIP installation and other network gear. Operators are also expected to provide location details of mobile customers within up to 50 meters. The new rules require operators to outline their security plans to the government within 30 working days.

Rs.2000 Cr Goodies For Village Panchayats: Courtesy DoT

The Department of Telecom (DoT) has plans of offering a plethora of freebies to all gram panchayats. These include three broadband connections for every gram panchayat absolutely free of any charge for three years along with free installation of computers and a printer. Not only this, the DoT also plans to provide the panchayats with three telephone connections and one cable TV connection again without any charge.

All this will cost the DoT about Rs 2,000 crore. However all this money will be funded through the Universal Services Obligation fund. This move is basically aimed at helping the rural people experience and relate to benefits of broadband. The DoT is also hoping that the freebies will also soften up villagers to give unobstructed right of way to rollout the infrastructure.

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Finally Here Comes The 3G Auction

 

After what seemed like an endless delay, the Telecom ministry has finally resolved its issues with the defense ministry. Hurray! We had lost hopes so much that, we started speculating whether 4G would arrive before the launch of 3G.

The Department of Telecom (DoT) will issue Notice Inviting Applications (NIA) from the potential bidders by the end of this week. All pending issues have been resolved," said telecom minister A Raja.
Asked about the date for auction of spectrum, he said, "You can take 40-45 days from the date of issuing NIA." Going by this, the auction cannot be completed within the current financial year with only 36 days remaining. The law Ministry had earlier objected to a clause in the draft NIA that successful bidders may ask for compensation in case they were not allotted spectrum within stipulated time period. ^

Though it’s unclear of how many slots would be allocated in each circle, rumor is that state government will be allotting as much as four slots to new players, due to availability of excess spectrum.

3G Auction Delayed Yet Again

It’s time that we should really stop hoping for 3G auction to be ever held in this fiscal at least. Thanks to the yet unsolved rift’ between the Defence Ministry and DoT, 3G auction might not be held during this fiscal. Department of Telecommunication (DoT) had promised that they would not further delay the 3G auction but promises are made to be broken and DoT takes it very seriously.

DoT approached the Defence Ministry to review the new 3G policies and the deal is just stuck there ever since. The difference between the defence ministry and DoT occur in not one, not two but as much as three issues regarding number of blocks to auction, the band allotted to BSNL and MTNL and the speed of the project to set up an alternate cable network for the Defence forces.

The DoT has sufficient airwaves to sell two 3G slots while the defence ministry has enough for two more. But the defence ministry has said it cannot vacate the airwaves until an optical fibre cable network is built to connect key defence locations and this would certainly take some time. These differences doesn’t look like would be solved quickly and might push the 3G auction to August-September, which is definitely not this fiscal as promised by DoT.