Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Repealing Regulations, 2023
- 02 Aug 2023
- 7 min read
Why in News?
Recently, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) took a significant step in modernizing the regulatory landscape by issuing the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Repealing Regulations, 2023.
- This regulation aimed to repeal the outdated Regulation on quality of service of dial-up and leased line internet access service, 2001, which had been in effect since December 10, 2001.
What is Dial-up and Leased Line Internet Access?
- Dial-up internet access is a form of internet access that uses the public switched telephone network (PSTN) to establish a connection to an ISP via a telephone line.
- It is the least expensive way to access the Internet, but it is also the slowest connection.
- Leased line internet access is a dedicated point-to-point data circuit that provides guaranteed bandwidth and symmetric upload and download speeds.
- They are typically used by businesses or organizations that need high-performance and reliable internet connectivity for their operations.
How was Dial Up and Leased Line Internet Access Regulated, and Why is it Now Outdated?
- The Regulation on quality of service of dial-up and leased line internet access service, 2001, was initially introduced to govern the quality of internet services provided by Basic Service Operators and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in India.
- The regulation applied to all providers, including the incumbent operators such as BSNL, MTNL, and VSNL.
- When the regulations were introduced, dial-up services were the predominant means of accessing low-speed internet. However, over time, the telecommunication networks have undergone significant transformations.
- The emergence of various technologies, including FTTH, LTE, and 5G, has made high-speed broadband services widely available to consumers.
- Moreover, leased line access services are now predominantly offered by Internet Gateway Service Providers (IGSPs) to enterprises, and these services are governed by Service Level Agreements (SLAs).
- SLAs inherently include provisions to safeguard concerns regarding service quality, making the 2001 regulation less relevant in the current context.
- With this regulatory burden lifted with Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Repealing Regulations, 2023, service providers can focus more on delivering cutting-edge services and improving customer experiences.
- Additionally, the telecommunications sector may experience increased competition and innovation, leading to enhanced service quality, expanded coverage, and potential cost efficiencies.
What are the Current Major Challenges Related to Telecom Sector?
- Financial Stress: The telecom sector in India has been grappling with intense competition, low tariffs, and high debt burdens.
- Several telecom companies were facing financial challenges, and some even declared bankruptcy or merged with other players to stay afloat.
- Rural-Urban Disparity: Although adequate tele-density has been achieved, there is a significant discrepancy in the share of telecom subscribers between urban (55.42%) and rural (44.58%) areas of India.
- Also, fixed broadband penetration in the country is among the lowest in the world at only 1.69 per 100 inhabitants.
- Issue with Over-the-Top Platforms (OTT): OTT Communication service platforms like WhatsApp and Telegram use the network infrastructure of telecom service providers to provide services such as voice calls and SMS services.
- Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) allege that these features result in a double whammy for them as they cut into their sources of revenue (voice calls, SMS).
- Mismanagement of E-waste: Telecom industry impacts the environment in multiple ways, including through the generation of e-waste. In India, more than 95% of e-waste is illegally recycled by informal waste pickers.
- AI-Enabled Network Management: Implement AI-driven network management systems that can optimize network performance, predict maintenance needs, and ensure seamless connectivity for users.
- Telecom Infrastructure on Wheels: Create mobile telecom infrastructure units that can be deployed to temporary or underserved locations, such as construction sites, festivals, or disaster areas, to provide reliable connectivity.
- Streamlined Regulatory Processes: Simplify and expedite regulatory approvals for telecom infrastructure deployment, reducing bureaucratic hurdles and promoting faster network expansion.
- Also, bringing OTT communication services under the ambient of regulation is the need of hour.
What is Telecom Regulatory Authority of India?
- The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) was established with effect from 20th February 1997 by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997.
- TRAI consists of a chairperson and not more than two whole-time Members and not more than two part-time Members.
- To regulate telecom services, including fixation/revision of tariffs for telecom services which were earlier vested in the Central Government.
- Ensure quality of service and transparency in tariff
- Advise the government on policy matters and licensing issues
- The recommendations of the TRAI are not binding upon the Central Government.
- Appellate Authority:
- The TRAI Act was amended by an ordinance, effective from 24 January 2000, establishing a Telecommunications Dispute Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) to take over the adjudicatory and disputes functions from TRAI.