TRAI: Waive fixed line broadband fee to lower cost and increase penetration

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TRAI: Waive fixed line broadband fee to lower cost and increase penetration

TRAI: Waive fixed line broadband fee to lower cost and increase penetration

Apr 18, 2015 02:37:16 PM (IST)

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has come out with 10 point recommendations on broadband.

TRAI recommendations on broadband include: Institutional revamping, aligning spectrum bands, single window clearance for RoW, private sector involvement in NOFN, single window clearances for towers, private sector involvement in NOFN, promote fixed line broadband, promote CATV, restructuring in satellite, hosting of content in India and universal adoption.

Institutional Revamping
WPC should be converted into an independent body by delinking it from DoT and either converting it into a statutory body responsible to Parliament or transferring it to an existing statutory body. Even in a more limited role of assigning solely commercially available spectrum, there is a strong case for an institutional overhaul of WPC to realize goals of institutional efficiency and transparency.
TRAI: Waive fixed line broadband fee to lower cost and increase penetration-1
The multi-layered structure for NOFN is just not suitable for a project that needs to be executed in mission mode. The structure needs immediate overhaul.

Aligning Spectrum Bands
Align spectrum bands with globally harmonized bands to achieve interference free coexistence and economies of scale. Current availability of spectrum in our LSAs is about 40 percent of that available in comparable countries elsewhere. Clearly, there is a crying need for assignment of additional spectrum for commercial telecom services.

There is a need to lay down a clear roadmap for spectrum management which should state the requirement and availability of spectrum for each LSA as well as for the whole country. This roadmap should be made available publicly to ensure transparency.

There is an urgent need for audit by an independent agency of all allocated spectrum both commercial as well as spectrum allocated to various PSUs/government organizations. This ought to be a national priority and must be undertaken within 3 months.

Single Window Clearance for RoW
Single-window clearance is an imperative for RoW (Right of Way) proposals both at the state government as well as central Government. All such clearances have to be time bound so that operators and infrastructure providers can move rapidly to project execution. Ideally, single-window clearance should be administered online with a defined turnaround time.
There is a need for enunciating a National RoW Policy to ensure uniformity in costs and processes.

Private Sector Involvement in NOFN
Project implementation on Centre State Public-Private Partnership (CSPPP) mode by involving state governments and the private sector. Award of EPC (turnkey) contracts by BBNL to private parties through international competitive bidding needs to be planned. Such contracts can be given region wise with clear requirements for interconnection with other networks, as well as infrastructure sharing with other operators who would like to utilize this network.

Single Window Clearances for Towers
Single window and time bound clearances should be encouraged for installation of towers to ensure the rapid development of national networks. Extensive consumer awareness and education programmes should be organized so that consumers fully understand EMF radiation and its potential impact on health.

Promote Fixed line Broadband
To promote fixed line broadband, the license fee on the revenues earned from fixed line broadband should be exempted for at least 5 years.
The infrastructure of PSUs is lying unutilized and thus they should be mandated to unbundle their network and allow sharing of outside plant (OSP).

Promote CATV
Cable operators should be allowed to function as resellers of ISP license holders to enable them to take advantage of their cable network to provide broadband.
Implementation of digitization of cable services to tier 2 and tier 3 cities in a time-bound manner.

Restructuring in Satellite
Separation of licensor, regulator and operator functions in the satellite domain to conform to best international practices of free markets.
The issue of coordination of additional spectrum in the 2,500-2,690 MHz band with DoS needs to be addressed urgently, so that this band can be optimally utilized for commercial as well as strategic purposes.

Hosting of Content in India
The government needs to encourage local and foreign companies to build ‘DataCentre Parks’ on the lines of industrial parks, SEZs etc. by providing them land, infrastructure and uninterrupted power supply at affordable rates.

Universal Adoption
Governments (central and state) have to act as model users and anchor tenants through delivery of e-government services including e-education, e-governance, m-health, m-banking and other services.
Schools are ideal and convenient point for early initiation to broadband services. Government schools in rural and remote areas can be provided subsidy from the USOF for broadband connectivity.
Cost of CPE are major barriers to the adoption of broadband services. TSPs may be allowed to offer CPE bundled tariff schemes and revenues from such offers ought to be exempted from the applicable license fee at least for for three years.

In addition, there are a large number of recommendations of TRAI on which decisions of the government are still awaited. These include recommendations on spectrum trading, spectrum sharing, open sky policy, infrastructure sharing, microwave access and backbone spectrum.

TRAI issued the consultation Paper on “Delivering Broadband Quickly: What do we need to do?” on 24th September, 2014 to discuss issues contributing to broadband penetration in India and to solicit stakeholders’ views on action required to be taken both by the government and the private sector to accelerate the proliferation and use of broadband in the country.