Telecom Commission to take up Net Neutrality; in-flight connectivity issues
The Cabinet is likely to take a final decision next month on the recommendations made by an inter-ministerial group (IMG) for the telecom sector.
IMG had recommended a few measures for the sector which is reeling under financial stress, including relaxation in repayments for spectrum. These have already been approved by the Telecom Commission, the highest policy-making body of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).
Also, Telecom Commission will meet next month to finalise critical issues relating to the sector such as the New Telecom Policy 2018, Net Neutrality and in-flight connectivity, according to a senior official.
The first draft of the New Telecom Policy 2018 is expected to be out in a few weeks. The new policy will provide a road map for all the new technologies such as artificial intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT), 5G, among others.
The objective is to make India future-ready at a time when data adoption is increasing at a fast pace and will be the centre of many things. Also, 5G technology will speed up the digital transformation.
If approved by the commission, in-flight connectivity, which has been recommended by telecom regulator Trai, will allow consumers to access mobile data and connectivity while on the flights.
The commission had earlier approved the extension of time period for the payment of spectrum bought in auctions by operators to 16 years from the current 10 years. It had also approved the IMG recommendation to lower the interest rate on penalties paid by telecom operators by about 2%.
The cumulative debt of the telecom industry stands at Rs 4.6 lakh crore. With the entry of a new player Reliance Jio, the financials of the incumbents have taken a downward spiral.
Last month, the commission was in agreement with Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's (Trai) suggestion to raise spectrum holding limit of mobile operators which will ease the exit route for those under stress.
Trai had recommended last month that the ceiling on spectrum held by mobile operators within a particular band should be removed. It suggested a 50% cap on combined radio-wave holding in efficient bands like 700 MegaHertz, 800 MHz and 900 MHz.
Trai had also suggested that the overall cap on holding spectrum is raised from the current 25% to 35%. As per the current rules, no mobile service provider can hold more than 25% spectrum, vital for transmitting signals, in an area and more than 50% in a frequency band.
Source: DNA Money