Convergence Plus
Policy & Regulation
Tuesday, November 13, 2018
Trai to meet CEOs of telecom, broadcasting firms in December

Trai to meet CEOs of telecom, broadcasting firms in December Telecom regulator has called a meeting of chief executive officers of telecom and broadcasting firms next month in order to set the agenda for the upcoming year. The plan is to understand the issues plaguing the sectors and accordingly come up with consultation papers to frame new policies or revise the existing ones, a senior official from Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) told DNA Money.

While the meeting with chiefs of telecom companies is expected to happen on December 4, the regulator is likely to hold talks with heads of broadcasting firms on December 7, sources said.

The main agenda of the meetings would be to gauge the situations impacting these sectors, see what could be done further to improve ease doing of business and discuss other existing policies that need a relook.

For telecom, the government is likely to go for an auction of 5G spectrum next year. While it is learnt that Reliance Jio is in favour of an auction, other telecom firms are unwilling because of the financial stress. The Department of Telecommunications is likely to ask Trai to reconsider the spectrum prices suggested in its recommendations.

In broadcasting, there has been a shift in the entire framework of the TV industry after the Supreme Court upheld the Trai's tariff order and interconnect regulations for pricing and packaging of TV channels.

• The meeting with telecom chiefs is likely on December 4. Trai may meet broadcasting CEOs on December 7

• The plan is to understand the issues plaguing the sectors and come up with consultation papers (Source: Mint)

Data & cyber security may come under Trai, Telecom Commission

Data & cyber security may come under Trai, Telecom Commission The remits of the telecom regulator and the Telecom Commission are in the process of being widened that may see them overseeing issues such as data privacy, security and cybercrime, which are currently being looked into by the IT ministry, people familiar with the matter said. According to officials in the Department of Telecommunications and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), these changes, which will come through an amendment in laws, underline the fact that consumers access most of their data via mobile phones, and hence the telecom department will need to get involved.

“We have to realise that subjects such as data privacy and security all flow through the telecom network. In fact, 93% of all such data is consumed on telecom networks, for example ecommerce, etc,” said a senior government official, who did not want to be named.

“Aspects of data privacy etc should all come under one ambit, and that should be the Digital Commission and the Digital Communications Regulator,” the official said.

Any change in the regulatory ambit of one of the two institutions — the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) or the TC — needs to be complemented by a similar widening of the scope of the other. This, since all of the regulator’s recommendations need to be cleared by the Telecom Commission (TC).

Recently, the cabinet approved renaming the Telecom Commission to the Digital Communications Commission (DCC) while industry watchdog Trai became Digital Communications Regulatory Authority of India. “These cannot be just name changes. One needs to keep in mind that this will be the policy of the government, not of any ministry. Some changes need to be made in the remit of the Digital Commission and the Trai Act as well. It’s a work in progress,” said another senior official of the telecom ministry. Currently, the TC—an inter-ministerial body, which is the highest decision-making authority of the DoT—is headed by the telecom secretary.

The full-time members of the commission are member (finance), member (production), member (services) and member (technology). Part-time members of the TC are CEO of NitiAayog, secretary (Department of Economic Affairs),

Secretary, ministry of electronics and information technology (MeitY) and secretary (Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion). The TC was set up via a government resolution in 1989. Trai, on the other hand, is governed by the Trai Act of 1997.

An inter-ministerial team was formed three months ago which is working on ways in which many aspects related to data privacy and data security are moved under telecom, said another DoT official. The official added that the team of experts includes officials of MeitY and the ministry of information and broadcasting (I&B).

“We have instructions from the top officials in the government to see how all privacy and datarelated issues can be seamlessly looked into under the governance of TC,” the official said.

A senior Trai official also confirmed that meetings are on and this would also lead to additional responsibility for the sector regulator, which currently regulates all matters related just to the sector, with consumer interests at the heart of its actions. “The jurisdiction of TC will increase keeping cybercrime in mind. It is still in the planning stage but talks are on to ensure that all the work that is done by DoT in dealing with data safety is put forward,” said another official aware of the developments.

The government plans to table the draft personal data protection bill submitted by Justice BN Srikrishna Committee in Parliament by December after holding consultations with different ministries, industry representatives and the public.

The bill, submitted to the IT ministry, recommends a layered consent architecture and bringing in key principles of personal data processing, whereby companies should collect only the required data from an individual, state the purpose of its use explicitly, and store it only for as long as it is required.

As per the draft bill, citizens and internet users will have the final say on how and for what purpose personal data can be used, and they will also have the right to withdraw consent.

The Trai, on its own, in mid-July had released its recommendations on the subject titled ‘Privacy, Security and Ownership of Data in the Telecom Sector’, which are applicable for apps, browsers, operating systems and handset makers.

DoT limits subscriber enrolment during network test to 5%; trial phase to 180 days

DoT limits subscriber enrolment during network test to 5%; trial phase to 180 days The telecom department has restricted enrolment of test subscribers on network of a new mobile operator to 5 per cent of its network capacity during trial phase and testing period to maximum six months. "The number of test subscribers that can be enrolled by a licensee in licensed service area (LSA or telecom circle) shall be limited to 5 per cent of its installed network capacity for that LSA," the department said in its order.

The order has come in to effect from October 9.

The telecom operator will need to submit details of network capacity to the Department of Telecom (DoT) and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India at least 15 days before commencing enrolment of test subscribers.

The guidelines come following issue of continuous enrolment of test subscribers when Reliance Jio started its network test. Rivals of Jio approached the DoT and the telecom regulator to act against the practice, alleging that Jio is on-boarding customers by masquerading them as test subscribers.

MukeshAmbani led Jio started testing of 4G network with its employees first in late 2015 and gradually opened it for all customers without announcing final date for commercial launch of its 4G service. The company had enrolled around 15 lakh customers before commercially starting its service on September 5, 2016.

The DoT order restricts network test to 90 days and on case-to-case basis the test phase can extended to 180 days.

"There shall be limit of 90 days on the test phase involving test subscribers. However, if the TSP fails to conclude network testing due to valid reasons, it may make representations to DoT seeking additional time for network testing giving detailed justification...the total time period for network testing provided to the TSP shall not exceed 180 days," the order said.

During the test phase, the subscriber on the network will not be able to avail mobile number portability service.

The order bars telecom operator testing network from charging any fee from subscribers and the company will also need to share likely date of commercial launch of service before starting the process, according to the order. (Source: Economic Times)

DoT plans to seek Cabinet nod for 4G spectrum allocation to BSNL, MTNL

DoT plans to seek Cabinet nod for 4G spectrum allocation to BSNL, MTNL The Department of Telecom plans to seek the Cabinet approval in the next two months for the allocation of spectrum to the state-run telecom firms BSNL and MTNL for 4G services, an official source said. “The draft Cabinet note is expected to be ready in mid-October after which it will be floated for inter-ministerial consultation. Thereafter the DoT will approach the Cabinet with a revised draft note in November,” the source told PTI.

BSNL has submitted a detailed project report to the government seeking spectrum for 4G services in lieu of equity. BSNL has sought Rs 6,652 crore as equity infusion from the government to fund its spectrum purchase worth about Rs 13,885 crore, according to information shared by Telecom Minister, Manoj Sinha, in Parliament.

BSNL Chairman and Managing Director, AnupamShrivastava, had earlier told PTI that the company is seeking spectrum in the 2100 MHz band for all circles, except Rajasthan, where the company is looking for spectrum in the 800 MHz band.

MTNL Chairman and Managing Director P K Purwar has requested the government to grant 4G spectrum in lieu of equity worth around Rs 6,500-7,000 crore and extend its mobile licence till 2021. The licence expires in 2019.

Sinha in mid-September had said that the survival of BSNL and MTNL without 4G spectrum is tough and the government is working on a strategy to settle the issues that have emerged due to some decisions of the apex court. (Source: The Hindu BusinessLine)

Airtel, Jio say fined by Trai for slipping on quality norms

Airtel, Jio say fined by Trai for slipping on quality normsBharti AirtelNSE 1.83 % and Reliance JioInfocomm said they have received demand notices from the telecom regulator for slipping on multiple quality of service (QoS) norms during the March quarter.

“Bharti Airtel has received demand notices, totalling Rs 11 lakh towards penalties in respect of six circles -- Maharashtra, Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kolkata and Gujarat -- for the quarter ending March 2018,” the Sunil Mittal-led telco said late Tuesday evening in response to a BSE query on media reports about the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) slapping penalties on big telcos, including Airtel, Reliance Jio, and erstwhile Vodafone India/Idea Cellular -- which have recently merged – for alleged violation of QoS parameters.

Airtel said the “penalties are towards routine parameters such as accessibility of call center, percentage of calls answered by operators and metering and billing credibility,” adding that it “would deal appropriately” with the demand notices.

In a similar response to BSE, MukeshAmbani-controlled Reliance Industries, said its subsidiary, “Jio has received a communication from Trai regarding payment of aRs 34 lakh financial disincentive for not meeting certain call centre service parameters”.

“Jio will take necessary action for obtaining requisite clarification from Trai,” RIL said in its late nigh response to the BSE query.

RIL, further said, the company “would make necessary disclosures in compliance with its obligations under Securities & Exchange Board of India (Listing Obligations & Disclosure Requirements) Regulations 2015,” and its agreements with stock exchanges.

At press time, Vodafone-Idea had not replied to BSE’s queries on the reported imposition of penalties.

According to media reports, Jio, Vodafone India and Idea have been fined about Rs 34 lakh, Rs 4 lakh, 12..5 lakh respectively.

Trai had made the QoS norms more stringent and has asked all carriers to abide by the new benchmarks from October, 2017.

Trai chairman R S Sharma had had reportedly said recently that the sector regulator was in the advanced stages of slapping penalties on mobile operators that have flouted service quality norms. (Source: Economic Times)

Department of Telecom examines 5G pricing model

Department of Telecom examines 5G pricing modelThe telecom regulator recently suggested base price of Rs 492 crore per unit of 3,500 MHz 5G spectrum. The department of telecom (DoT) is examining industry inputs as well as global 5G spectrum prices, wherever it has been auctioned, vis-à-vis the telecom and regulatory authority of India (Trai) proposals to see if the recommended price points are higher by any measure and if the telcos would bid for them as and when auction takes place or these prices would need revision.

Though it is too early to take a call but whenever the auction takes place, spectrum should be sold, a senior DoT official said and added, we have to see what the global pric-ing model of such (5G) bands are.

An operator would need to pay Rs 9,840 crore for 5G spectrum on the pan-India basis as the telecom regulator has suggested that the auction should be “in the block size of 20 mega hertz (MHz).” The recommended base price is 30 per cent of the price of 1,800 MHz band and the regulator has proposed a limit of 100 units of spectrum per bidder to avoid monopoly.According to industry experts, Trai’s suggested base price of Rs 492 crore per unit of 3,500 MHz 5G spectrum is much higher than Rs 65 crore per unit achieved at a recent 5G auction in South Korea. “Trai’s 5G spectrum base price is 7.5 times the market-discovered price in South Korea,” says a telecom operator.

The UK’s biggest mobile operators spent about £1.4 billion to acquire 5G spectrum earlier this year, with Vodafone winning 50 MHz in the 3.4 GHz frequency band by paying £378 million and BT-owned EE getting 40 MHz paying £303 million. BT-owned EE acquires 40 MHz by paying £303 million (Rs 2,673 crore) giving a per mhz price of Rs 67 crore.

The government raised only Rs 65,789 crore in 2016 of the estimated Rs 5 lakh crore as 700 Mhz remained unsold on which the auction value was riding and also there was lukewarm response to the auction . This time the government has 8,500 Mhz of spectrum to sell. A senior executive of a telecom operator said 5G is not for consumers. It is for businesses and allied applications like healthcare, smart cities, education and agriculture. So making money from 5G spectrum is not easy and quick.

The financial position due to high competition is at peak , how can we block money in 5G when we know 4G capex also needs to be taken up and also the payment of spectrum dues payment, the official said. No fresh investment is being seen by any telco at this stage for any new area, the official added. DoT is also concerned about the Rs 5 lakh crore debt of telcos, 85 per cent of which is due to loans taken by them for paying spectrum dues to the government in 2016. Indian radio waves are considered most expensive in the world.

Sources said DoT is aware of the poor financial situation of telecom operators. Telcos have told the department that they could be ready for spectrum auction only by the second half of 2019 – September onwards. DoT has a fair idea of that timeline, also even if the auction takes place around November 2019, the country would not miss the 2020 5G rollout deadline, set by itself. In certain countries, 5G bands are priced around 43 per cent less compared with the 700 Mhz band, which can also be used for 5G services.

Another official said DoT has started looking at proposals internally and also the telcos’ analysis of prices. It’s too early to say if 5G spectrum pricing at all needs revision and be referred back to Trai for a relook, the official added. All across the world, telecom service providers and countries are gearing up for 5G rollout. Italy is targeting a September auction of spectrum that could be used for 5G. The UK sold bandwidth in April that included some earmarked for these services. The Hong Kong government is even considering giving away airwaves free, said one operator. (Source: Deccan Chronicle)

Central government in process to frame net neutrality rules, amend telecom licence: Manoj Sinha

Central government in process to frame net neutrality rules, amend telecom licence: Manoj SinhaTelecom minister Manoj Sinha has informed the Rajya Sabha that net neutrality rules are being set up across service providers, as it also aims to improve the licensing process.

Government is in the process of framing rules to implement net neutrality in the country, which bars service providers from discriminating against internet content and services by blocking, throttling or granting them higher speed access. “Government is in the process of establishing the regulatory framework for net neutrality which, inter alia, includes amendment in the terms of various licence agreements governing the provision of internet services in India to incorporate the principles of non-discriminatory treatment of content,” Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha on Friday told Rajya Sabha in a written statement.

The apex decision making body at the Department of Telecom, the Telecom Commission, had approved implementation of net neutrality as suggested by the sector regulator TRAI with slight modification on July 11. Some mission critical applications or services like remote surgery and autonomous cars will, however, be kept out of the purview of net neutrality framework. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had recommended restrictions on service providers from entering into agreements which lead to discriminatory treatment of content on the internet.

TRAI had favoured tweaking of licensing norms for players to ensure “explicit restrictions” on discrimination in internet access, based on content. The Department of Telecom has to set up a multi-stakeholder body for monitoring and enforcement of net neutrality comprising government representatives, IoT providers, telecom operators, civil society members and consumer organisations. DoT will seek recommendations from TRAI on traffic management for critical services. Government is committed to the fundamental principles and concept of net neutrality and strives for non-discriminatory access to internet for all citizens of the country,” Sinha said.(Source: Indian Express)

Trai recommends no auction for walky-talky service spectrum allocation

Trai recommends no auction for walky-talky service spectrum allocationUnlike cellular services, PMRTS are operated for two-way communication within small distance of around 30 kilometre-range by police, security agencies, construction companies etc. Keeping aside observation of the Supreme Court order in 2G spectrum case that spectrum should be allocated through auction, Trai has recommended allotment of radio waves without bidding route for PMRTS.

"The authority recommends that taking into consideration factors viz PMRTS market conditions; low spectrum demand and high spectrum availability; the assignment of spectrum for PMRTS should be made administratively on the basis of demand," Trai said on late Friday evening. Unlike cellular services, PMRTS are operated for two-way communication within small distance of around 30 kilometre-range by police, security agencies, construction companies etc.

The recommendations have been made after the telecom department requested the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India to suggest appropriate method of spectrum allocation for Public Mobile Radio Trunking Service (PMRTS). "DoT through letter dated 6th February 2018, informed the authority that - 'regarding the methodology of spectrum allocation (and its legality) - auction or otherwise - a policy decision will be taken by DoT, as advised by Trai. Notwithstanding that, Trai may provide it’s considered recommendations as requested by DoT," the regulator said.

The Supreme Court order in 2012, which cancelled 122 telecom permits that were assigned spectrum administratively for 2G service, said that the spectrum should be assigned transparently through auction. The DoT in July 2017 has sought regulator's views on method that should be used for spectrum allocation for PMRTS."Upon examining the reference, the authority realised that other methods of allocation of spectrum such as administrative allocations etc apart from the auction mechanism were also open for consideration," Trai said.

Following this observation, Trai approached DoT for clarity as to whether it is legally tenable to allocate spectrum by any mechanism other than auction and received go ahead from the department. DoT assigned spectrum for PMRTS at administrative price as an interim measure up to March 31, 2014, but discontinued provisional assignment of spectrum to PMRTS providers from June 2015, as per the Trai paper.

However, it continued interim assignment of the spectrum to the government, public sector firms and private users etc for captive usages for a period of next six months. PMRTS is a niche service used only by limited institutional clients in certain pockets with a total subscriber base of approximately 56 thousand radio users nationally and the spectrum requirement is relatively low for these services.

"In the financial year 2017-18, the revenue generated by the PMRTS providers was only about Rs 35 crore and the Royalty and Spectrum Fee charges paid by the PMRTS providers was less than Rs 1 crore," the Trai paper said. Under the new telecom policy in works, government has proposed to rationalise spectrum price as the industry under debt burden of Rs 7.8 lakh crore has expressed that the price are too high for them and expensive airwaves do not make business case for them.

As part of the recommendations, Trai has suggested levying of spectrum usage charges at rate of 1 per cent on adjusted gross revenue (AGR) for the spectrum allocated to PMRTS. For determining the AGR for the purpose of levy of license fee and SUC, Trai recommended that the revenue from sale of handsets (the cost of which is separately identifiable) will be allowed as deduction from the gross revenue of PMRTS.

The regulator, however, did not make any specific recommendation on license fee of PMRT Service. Trai also suggested that the existing provision of duration of 20 years for PMRTS license should continue. Firms operating in the segment said that PMRTS infrastructure is very expensive and life of the PMRTS infrastructure is 15-20 years and hence licence should be at least for 20 years period. The regulator has recommended that in order to promote efficient use of spectrum, the cap on the number of PMRTS handsets per channel that can be imported, should be removed.

"However, while applying for import license, the PMRTS provider shall provide a justification for demand/ requirement of spares etc of PMRTS handsets required to be imported," Trai said. (Source:ETTelecom)

Huawei says does not expect US sanctions Press

Huawei says does not expect US sanctions PressHuawei, also the world's third-largest smartphone maker, is a private company but has found itself battling perceptions of ties to the Chinese government, which it has repeatedly denied.

China's Huawei, the world's largest maker of telecommunication network equipment, does not see itself becoming the target of U.S. sanctions and will keep buying U.S. chips this year, one of its three rotating chairmen told a French newspaper. Huawei, also the world's third-largest smartphone maker, is a private company but has found itself battling perceptions of ties to the Chinese government, which it has repeatedly denied.

Several U.S. lawmakers last month claimed its research funding to American universities posed a "significant threat" to national security, the latest difficulty Huawei has faced operating in the United States. Another major Chinese telecommunications equipment maker, ZTE Corp, was hit last month by a $1.4 billion settlement deal after the U.S. government said the firm broke an agreement to discipline executives who conspired to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran and North Korea.

Asked if he feared his company could also be hit by sanctions, Ken Hu, one of Huawei's rotating chairmen, told Le Journal du Dimanche:

"It would be hard to imagine. Ten years ago we put in place a system to control our exports, which has become very efficient. Our policy is to closely implement all laws and regulations introduced by Europe, the United Nations and the United States."
Asked if Huawei could do without U.S. components, Hu said the company's logistical chain was international. "We must be open and choose the best technologies, the best products. We will therefore keep buying American chips this year."

Earlier this year, U.S. lawmakers asked Alphabet Inc's Google to reconsider working with Huawei, which they described as a security threat. And a deal with U.S. telecom firm AT&T Inc T.N to sell its smartphones in the United States collapsed at the 11th hour due to security concerns. (Source: ETTelecom)

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