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TRAI issues recommendations for ease of doing business for telecom and broadcast sector

These recommendations were made after TRAI floated a consultation paper of 'Ease of Doing Business in Telecom and Broadcasting sector" on December 8, 2021

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has recommended steps for ease of doing business (EoDB) in the Telecom sector - which include granting critical infrastructure status to broadcast and cable sector and submarine cable laying and repair in Indian territorial waters and exclusive economic zones of India.

The steps for EoDB also state that cable landing stations in the country should be classified as critical and essential services. 

These recommendations were made after TRAI floated a consultation paper of 'Ease of Doing Business in Telecom and Broadcasting sector" on December 8, 2021. It said a user-friendly, transparent and responsive digital single-window system-based portal should be established for end-to-end inter-departmental online processes.

“The recommendations strive to create a process-based approach on EoDB. TRAI envisions that such an ecosystem will pave (the) way for a periodic review and further reforms. The quick implementation of these recommendations will engender growth of these sectors,” the regulator said.

It recommends that a user-friendly, transparent and responsive digital single window system-based portal should be established. The portal should be enabled with new digital technologies for achieving end-to-end inter-departmental online processes.

"Each Ministry should establish a standing EoDB Committee to regularly review, simplify and update the existing processes and ensure ease of doing business as an on-going activity," TRAI stated. 

It also stated that MIB, DoT, DOS, MeitY and other agencies should specify stage-wise timelines for all the processes - including initial as well as additional permissions, which should be mentioned in the respective Guidelines/policy and updated in the Citizen Charter.

The government may consider and grant 'Infrastructure Status' to the 'Broadcasting and Cable Services Sector'.

Wireless and Planning Commission (WPC) should charge the spectrum royalty fee for temporary uplinking of live events on a pro-rata basis for the actual number of days of the event. TRAI has also made recommendations to change the name of frequency licensing process under WPC to frequency assignment and reduce the approvals required to start services.

For local cable operators (LCO), TRAI recommended that a simple mobile app should be developed by MIB for registration. The request for cancellation before five years should also be enabled.

The RoW portal (GatiShakti Sanchar Portal) should incorporate all the service providers, including LCOs. DoT should enable RoW approvals for LCOs also in consultation with MIB. A hyperlink/button icon should be provided on the portal and app to reach the RoW portal.

MIB should maintain a common database of registered LCOs, which should be made available to the public at large.

In terms and conditions of DoT License Agreement for Unified License: The lawful interception monitoring demonstration of a new service in a single network may take place centrally at one LSA/ location.

There should be a module in the single window portal to comply with the end-to-end requirements of the rollout obligation process.

The process of request for Remote Access to network from foreign locations, and approval by DoT, should be made online and timebound.

TRAI also recommended that for reducing the compliance burden on ISPs: Government may revise the periodicity for submission by the ISPs for providing the details of ISPNodes or Points of Presence (PoP) with their locations and number of broadband/leased/dial up subscribers to once every year.

Also, the website blocking process should be incorporated on the single window portal.

For laying and repair of submarine cables, TRAI stated that "Permissions of laying, operations and maintenance of submarine cables network should also be made online as a part of SaralSanchar portal."

A committee should review the international best practices and feasibility for identifying and declaring special corridors in the Indian marine context, it added. 

The process of surrender of DoT license, issuance of NOC, and release of bank guarantees to the service providers should be made simple, online and time-bound.

100% verification of Licence Fee (LF) and Spectrum Usage Charges (SUC) should be replaced with sample base deduction verification based on appropriate scientific statistical model. TRAI has also recommended that the submission of the Customer Acquisition Forms (CAFs) by the TSPs to the DoT licensed service area should be made online. 

Other recommendations include that DoT should formulate a working group to study and exempt Equipment Type Approval (ETA)/Import License for devices having wireless sensors emitting very low power below a prescribed level. To avoid duplicity in testing of telecommunications products DoT should constitute a standing committee comprising two senior level officers of Joint Secretary level each from i) MeitY, ii) DoTWPC, iii) TEC, iv) BIS and v) Two representatives from product manufacturers. The committee should clearly identify a single testing scheme under which the product needs to be tested.

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