Necessity for a new juristic framework governing Telecommunications
Recently the Ministry of Communications has issued a consultation paper on the need for a new legal framework governing telecommunication in India.
The draft paper takes into account the emergence of new technologies like 5G, Internet of Things (IoT) etc. At the same time, it has also emphasized the need for a legal framework in line with the modern and future requirements.
This legal framework will address the realities of telecommunications in 21st century India.
Key proposals of the new law
- It underscores the government’s prerogative to provide telecommunications services and to build and maintain telecommunications networks and infrastructure.
- It simplifies the regulatory framework through adequate provisions to ensure regulation and promote investment.
- It brings regulatory clarity for spectrum allocation. At present, spectrum allocation is done on the basis of policies and orders of the courts.
- It also mentions effective ‘right of way’ through an equitable and non-discriminatory framework to maintain connectivity. (The legal right to pass a particular route through another’s property is called ‘right of way’.)
- Attempts to comprehensively reform the existing Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF). A comprehensive “Telecom Development Fund” has been proposed in this.
- It also makes suitable provisions to deal with situations of public emergency and public safety and to take measures in the interest of national security.
- It also provides for the framework for mergers, acquisitions, etc. Apart from this, there are also provisions related to bankruptcy and penalties.
Key findings of CAG on spectrum allocation-
- Between 2012 and 2021, spectrum allocation in India was done on an ad hoc basis. Due to this the government has experienced uncertainty in the availability of the resource.
- The spectrum allotted to the government was either not fully utilized or not utilized at all.
- The Department of Telecommunications has not taken steps to assess the technological developments around the world. This assessment was made mandatory in the National Digital Communications Policy, 2018.
Source – The Hindu