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News Heading  : Telecom Policy 2011 set to get delayed

Post Date : 2011-12-07

News Source : Times Of India

News By : Shalini Singh

News Details  :

The proposed National Telecom Policy (NTP) 2011 is likely to become NTP 2012. This makes NTP 2011 the latest casualty of the stress, scepticism and nervousness being felt by the industry in the shadow of the 2G spectrum scam.

The DoT, responding to requests from a wide range of stakeholders - primarily industry associations led by COAI, AUSPI, ACTO and ISPAI including CII, Ficci and Assocham - has agreed to extend the consultation for another month until December 8, 2011.

The industry revealed its nervousness on three counts: New concepts which were not discussed in run up to the draft NTP 2011, potential adverse revenue impact from concepts like spectrum refarming and others and a competitive threat unless issues of convergence and license unification are defined in a transparent manner through public consultation.

Spectrum issues, including refarming, are critical as they impact costs and viability. The industry wants to ascertain that the language in the policy does not in any way entrap the sector into committing massive revenues on account of refarming, or losing spectrum in the 800 and 900 MHz bands when licences come up for renewal. This aspect has become even more important since the Trai, in its recommendation of November 3, 2011, determined the economic value of refarmed spectrum as worth 'few lakh crores'.



The second major issue arises out of a totally new concept that the DoT has introduced - network service operator (NSO) and service delivery operator (SDO) type licences. This is at odds with the current services specific licensing regime categorized under Unified Access Services (UAS) licences, NLD (STD), ILD (ISD), and ISP (internet) licences.

Operators complain that the two new terms, which are roughly equivalent of facilities and non-facilities-based operators, though prevalent in certain parts of the world, were never discussed, recommended by Traior the outcome of any previous consultation. To include them as a policy mandate without understanding the details, according to the operators, is a 'dangerous leap of faith'. Convergence issues are mentioned in general terms, which, read with the Ttai's recommendations for auctions in the 700 MHz band, restricting it to those who do not hold 800/900 MHz spectrum, could place existing operators at what they believe is a 'possible competitive disadvantage'. Convergence issues could further impact the use of BWA spectrum, which was originally restricted to data only

Finally, there are issues relating to equipment security pertaining to use of language that borders on a quota regime and distortion of market. This is expected to be opposed by global equipment manufacturers, including some who have assembly plants in India. Even service providers have serious stakes, especially since they could be subject to penalties if the indigenization component target in their networks is missed. Operators are also seeking detailed guidelines on security, encryption, lawful intercept, and other related matters - since these issues affect costs on one hand, and become a cause of show cause on the other.

By the time all comments are received and reconciled by the DoT, it could well be the end of December. Cabinet approval could push it further into January/February 2012. On January 1, 2011 the DoT had set a 100-day deadline for NTP 2011.

 
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