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Policy & Regulation
Sunday, March 18, 2018
MWC2018: Closely watching implementation of SC ruling on privacy, says GSMA

MWC2018: Closely watching implementation of SC ruling on privacy, says GSMA"The Supreme Court ruling on privacy is an area that is going to be very closely watched. Historically, folks around privacy and data protection have come primarily from United States and European Union.

Barcelona: Indian government's move to implement the Supreme Court ruling on privacy is being closely watched as it is a subject where developed nations have taken lead and has significant bearing on security and trust of people on telecom services, a senior officer of global telecom body GSM Association said.

"The Supreme Court ruling on privacy is an area that is going to be very closely watched. Historically, folks around privacy and data protection have come primarily from United States and European Union. Its going to be very interesting to observe, how the government interprets the ruling of Supreme Court and how that will be manifested in data protection regulations," GSMA Asia Pacific Head Alasdair Grant told in an interview.

The Supreme Court in a judgement on August 24, 2017 declared right to privacy a fundamental right, a far-reaching verdict that could impact a range of life choices of Indians, including food habits and sexual orientation.

The government had constituted a 10-member committee in July 2017 to recommend a framework for securing personal data in the increasingly digitised economy as also address privacy concerns and build safeguards against data breaches. The panel has completed public consultation process. The recommendation of the committee will be used for framing data protection and privacy rules in India.

"As licensed operators, we are subject to sector specific laws around data protection which means we are able to offer secure services that customers can trust," Grant said.

He said the rules will clarify the attributes of India's 12-digit unique identifier number Aadhaar and privacy issues around telecom subscribers.

GSMA is a global telecom operators' body and at present it is being chaired by Bharti Airtel Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal.
"India's thinking around policy and regulation is observed closely both throughout Asia pacific and world...we see digital India programme has been very profound programme to sustain economic development," Grant said.

India at present is the second largest telecom services market in terms of subscriber base and largest in terms of mobile data usage.
Grant said that India is one of most rapidly growing country in the world.

"Almost 90 per cent of population have sim card but only approximately one quarter of population has mobile broadband. Which means that 30 per cent of mobile users have smartphone. The big socio-economic change for Indian citizen is (to) move from feature phone to smartphones. We are seeing with effective policy that is going to happen quickly. We feel there is need for more capacity, more 5G capacity," he said.

Talking about ease of doing business in India, Grant said GSMA is very hopeful that government will look at issues around cost of doing business under the new telecom policy in works specially spectrum price and high taxes being paid by the telecom operators.
"Spectrum is the life blood of the industry and the Internet in India is mobile . So, spectrum is life blood of mobile because the digital ecosystem is absolutely central to India's economic futures. Spectrum is critical path of India's national infrastructure," Grant said.
He said it is important that Indian government develops effective roadmap for the release of spectrum, in particular 5G spectrum.
"It is equally important that pricing of spectrum is rational. So that it allows for efficient infrastructure investment to promote financial health of industry. We are in midst of dramatic period of consolidation in the industry. Need for financially healthy industry is paramount," Grant added.

He also said that when GSMA talks about best practices for spectrum, it is not about favouring any particular operator or fighting for lowest possible price. "We are advocating for efficient pricing model," he said.

Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha, who was here to attend Mobile World Congress last week, said India will align with the world to enhance telecom footprint in the country and revenue generation will not be a priority for the government. (Source: ETtelecom)

Issues at local level main cause for call drops: COAI

Issues at local level main cause for call drops: COAIThe COAI said the new rules by the regulator on monitoring and reporting call drops were very stringent and implementing them would require major changes in systems. A telecom industry body has said the problem of call drops was greater in data-based networks such as Voice over LTE (VoLTE) than in 2G and 3G technology services, and added that non-implementation of rules at local levels that hampered network rollouts was also a big factor in poor call quality.

The Cellular Operators Association of India, which represents all telcos, said the new rules by the regulator on monitoring and reporting call drops were very stringent and implementing them would require major changes in systems, processes and alignment with stakeholders and vendors. “We hold the view that penalty or financial disincentive should not be there,” said Rajan S Mathews, director general of the association. The regulator has made provisions to impose a penalty of up to Rs 10 lakh on service providers if they fail to meet the benchmark for three consecutive quarters. “Law of the land should work as indicated, but ease of business is not there when we get down to local levels,” Mathews told reporters during a discussion on call drops.

VoLTE is offered across India by Reliance Jio Infocomm, while older rivals Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular, which have operate 2G and 3G services, are gradually introducing VoLTE as well. Mathews said most causes of call drops on the customer side have not been considered under the new regulations. COAI said call drops may occur because of signal interference, congestion on cell sites, weather conditions, faulty handsets and call transfer from one tower to another. (Source:ETtelecom)

Department of Telecom assigns mobile tracking project to C-DoT

Department of Telecom assigns mobile tracking project to C-DoTThe Department of Telecom has assigned the mobile phone tracking project -- aimed at bringing down counterfeit cellphones and discouraging theft -- to the Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DoT). "Decision was taken in July 2017 to get the project done through BSNL. Now, the decision has been reviewed to assign the project to C-DoT," an official source told PTI. C-DoT will have to develop and implement the project which is named Central Equipment Identity Register (CEIR). The government has proposed to allocate Rs 15 crore for setting up CEIR in the country that will bring down the number of counterfeit handsets and discourage theft, according to the Union Budget 2018-19.

The CEIR system will block all services on stolen or lost mobile phones on any network even if the SIM card is removed or IMEI number of the handset is changed.

CEIR is also expected to protect consumer interest and facilitate law enforcement authorities for lawful interception.

CEIR will connect the IMEI database of all mobile operators. It will act as a central system for all network operators to share blacklisted mobile terminals so that devices placed under the said category in one network will not work on the other, even if the SIM card in the device is changed, it said.

IMEI number -- a unique 15-digit serial number of mobile devices -- is allocated by global industry body GSMA and bodies authorised by it. When a mobile phone is lost, the victim is required to mention the IMEI number of the handset for tracking.
"C-DOT has been asked to complete pilot project of CEIR covering all telecom operators by March 2018 in Maharashtra telecom circle," the source said.

CEIR will be regularly updated with IMEI of lost, stolen or counterfeit handsets. The DoT has barred telecom operators from providing service to any mobile phone with fake IMEI number but the operators face problem in identifying handsets with duplicate IMEI number.

CEIR will also help operators in identifying handsets with fake IMEI numbers as it will have details of handset model to which the IMEI had been originally allocated. (Source: Economic Times)

New draft telecom policy within a week

New draft telecom policy within a weekThe Department of Telecom (DoT) is likely to float draft of the National Telecom Policy 2018 within a week for public comments, an official source said. “The draft (of the NTP 2018) is very likely to be issued within a week,” the source, who is closely associated with policy draft formulation, told PTI.

The NTP 2018 is expected to present a growth road map of the Indian telecom sector, which is reeling under a severe financial stress, for a period of next five years. The Economic Survey 2017–18 tabled in Parliament last week noted the telecom sector is going through stress due to a huge debt pile, tariff war and irrational spectrum costs and called for policy measures to minimise over-bidding of assets during auctions.

The survey said auctions in case of spectrum as also coal and renewables led to transparency and avoided rent-seeking, although they “may have led to a winners’ curse, whereby firms overbid for assets, leading to adverse consequences in each of the sector”. “Policy design must minimise these costs wherever possible. More specifically, there should be greater reliance on using incentives and carrots than on sticks,” the survey said.

Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan last month had said the government will look at positioning the telecom sector primarily as an enabler to boost the economy rather than a revenue earner under the new NTP.

Facilitate business

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has recommended road map for NTP 2018 that should be able to address global requirements and attract investments of about USD 100 billion by 2022. The regulator has suggesed that the NTP 2018 should facilitate ease of doing business through simplification of licensing and regulatory frameworks, rationalisation of taxes, levies and related compliances, and facilitating availability of resources, including spectrum.

TRAI recommended that under the new policy framework, the telecom sector should be able to generate 20 lakh jobs, achieve 900 million broadband subscriptions with download speed of 2 Mbps and connect all gram panchayats with at least 1 gigabit per second with wireless broadband by 2022. It reiterated its long pending demand of putting in place an ombudsman based consumer grievance redressal mechanism “by end of 2018”.

The draft was earlier expected to be released by the end of December or early January. (Source: The Hindu BusinessLine)

GSMA wants government to focus on 5G in new telecom policy

GSMA wants government to focus on 5G in new telecom policyGSMA wants the government to come up with a spectrum allocation plan so that telcos could align their business and operational strategies for a better outcome. Association (GSMA), which represents the interests of some 800 carriers globally, has asked the Indian government to focus on fifth-generation (5G) technology in the new National Telecom Policy 2018, and start working around globally identified spectrum bands to leverage the full capabilities of the next-gen technology. “Widely harmonised mobile spectrum is needed to be identified in the upcoming telecom policy to ensure 5G services meet future expectations and deliver full potential capabilities. It should acknowledge 5G as a centerpiece for wireless connectivity,” Nitin Sapra, GSMA India & South Asia spectrum head, told ET.

The Indian government is banking on high-speed 5G services to accelerate citizen-centric services that could also enable Internet of Things (IoT) and has recently set up a 5G Forum to prepare a roadmap.

The government-led panel, which is expected to hold next round of meeting in February, also includes market leader Bharti Airtel chief executive (India & South Asia) Gopal Vittal and 4G player Reliance Jio Infocomm’s managing director Sanjay Mashruwala.

The government, which expects to ready the new telecom policy by March end, will also set up a development centre to work on 5G technologies in partnership with IIT, Chennai.

“Seven frequency bands are being considered for 5G roll out and that shall be decided at the World Radiocommunication Conference-2019 (WRC-19) with growing interest in the 26GHz band (24.25-27.5 GHz) to deliver ultra-high speed mobile broadband,” Laurent Bodusseau, senior director-spectrum at GSMA, said.

Equipment built for 26GHz band, according to him, can also support 28GHz radiowaves, which would help device costs to come down.

The London-based group also urged the government to include International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT)-identified bands and believes that for a large country like India, airwaves in the 600MHz (614-698 MHz) would be important for providing extensive and affordable mobile broadband coverage in rural areas beyond 2020.

Bodusseau also said the upcoming proposed airwaves sale in India is expected to include 3300 MHz band that would be the initial foundation for rolling out commercial 5G services globally.

GSMA wants the government to come up with a spectrum allocation plan so that telcos could align their business and operational strategies for a better outcome.

“India’s sharing of spectrum roadmap for 5G bands in the new national telecom policy would give a clear indication to other countries and would lead to frequencies harmonisation, considering the size of Indian market,” Bodusseau said.

GSMA Intelligence, a research wing of the organization, has predicted that 1.1 billion devices, or one in every eighth connection, would be on 5G by 2025.(Source: ETtelecom)

Trai chairman R.S. Sharma: Policies need to nudge telecom firms to improve tech

Trai chairman R.S. Sharma: Policies need to nudge telecom firms to improve techTrai chairman R.S. Sharma on the regulator’s agenda for the coming year and the issues faced by the telecom industry. For the next seven months until the end of his 40-year career with the government, R.S. Sharma, chairman of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), has a busy schedule. In various roles, Sharma introduced major changes in telecom regulations, played a key role in India’s unique identification programme and worked to maintain law and order in some of the most notorious districts of Bihar, where he served as magistrate in several districts during the 1980s. He seems to believe he has solved most of the troubling issues in the telecom sector in the past two years.

Now, Sharma has set a target of finishing all pending consultations before July, and the coming few weeks will see the regulator issue new rules on tariff assessment, announce the new international mobile termination charge and come out with a new consultation paper seeking inputs on regulation of over-the-top (OTT) services. Edited excerpts from an interview:

What is the regulator’s agenda for the coming year?

There are some pending papers in the advanced pipeline, those we will finish off. Whatever papers are out (in consultation stage), those I plan to complete before July. We are going to have meetings with industry bodies. We will meet broadcasting players on 12 January and telecom players on 23 January to decide the agenda for the year. We will also review what was discussed last year, how much has been completed, how much is left to be done.

What all is left from last year’s agenda?

We have sorted out most things. I don’t think there are any major immediate issues left, but there may be is a developing is progressing very fast.

Internet of things (IoT), machine-to-machine, cloud, all that we have done. 5G we have not done but (for the) rest, we have brought out policies. We have given recommendation on net neutrality also.

So, most of the stuff is done and the rest, for example the principles of tariff assessment, all those things are going to come in the next one or two weeks. Rest we will ask the industry “what do you think are the issues to be considered”.

What are the issues?

I will not like to give my list. Let me first ask the industry what their priorities are. My broad overarching thing had been that India should not be behind the technology curve. I will always think of policies and direction in which we nudge the players to improve technology.

How do you see the sector?

This is one sector whose area of applications are increasing by leaps and bounds. It has now become central to every sector.
Previously, your telecom was only for talking. Then, telecom also became a means of accessing internet. Now, it has become a means of delivering services in agriculture, health, transport, smart cities, sewage disposal, etc. So it is now becoming all-pervasive. So, information and communication technologies have become central to the growth story of any country. And that will require these networks and pipes and data and everything.

So here is one industry which has no demand slack. The more data you produce, it will be consumed. Today, our data consumption per capita is the highest in the world. Today, wireless data consumption per month is 1.5 exabytes, which is more than what the US consumes. This industry in near future is not going to suffer demand slump.

Will the traditional architecture of the industry change?

Another thing which is happening is essentially unbundling. Unbundling is extremely important. In a way, net neutrality is also a part of unbundling. We are saying you don’t bundle the content with the pipe. These are two independent things. Similarly, what is happening in this space also is that the number of players is going to become more.

You have now virtual network operators. In IoT, the guys who are providing applications for, say, smart transport will not be telcos. They will be some other entities who will be buying data from telcos. So, they will be using the telco’s pipes but at the end pipe, the last mile may not be telco’s but may be those entities. So the industry’s delivery structure changes. (Source: Mint)

E-commerce sites must show MRP, other details from today

E-commerce sites must show MRP, other details from todayTo protect online consumers, the Centre has made it mandatory from today for e-commerce firms to print not only the maximum retail price (MRP) on goods but also information like expiry date and customer care details.
The consumer affairs ministry had made the amendments in this regard to the Legal Metrology (packaged commodities) Rules in June 2017. The companies were given a six-month deadline to comply with the new rule. “Amendment made in the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011 to safeguard the interest of consumers and ease of doing business will come into force with effect from January 1, 2018,” the ministry said in a statement.

As per the amendments, goods displayed by the seller on e-commerce platform should contain declarations required under the rules. Along with MRP, the companies have to display the manufacturing date, expiry date, net quantity, country of origin and consumer care details on the label. “Size of letters and numerals for making declaration is increased, so that consumer can easily read the same,” the ministry said. "Specific mention is made in the rules that no person should declare different MRPs (dual MRP) on an identical pre-packaged commodity, it added.

Besides, the government has made the net quantity checking more scientific, while Bar Code/QR Coding has been allowed on a voluntarily basis. “Medical devices, which are declared as drugs, are brought into the purview of declarations to be made under the rules,” the ministry statement said.

At present, only MRP is printed on the goods sold online.

The changes come in the backdrop of e-marketplaces posing new and complex consumer protection issues with the ministry receiving several complaints as regard to information deficit on online products/goods. Flipkart, Amazon India, Snapdeal, Grofers and Bigbasket are some of the leading e-marketplaces entities operating in the country. (Source: The Hindu BusinessLine)

Parliament panel wants govt to slash levies on debt-ridden telecom companies

Parliament panel wants govt to slash levies on debt-ridden telecom companiesThe panel, headed by former law minister Veerappa Moily, also wants sharing of networks among all telecom companies.
A parliamentary panel wants the government to slash levies on telecom companies to ensure faster expansion of telecom and digital networks, which is essential for the success of the Digital India programme.

The parliamentary standing committee on finance, in a draft titled Transformation towards a digital economy, says: “Festering issues relating to the debt-ridden telecom sector (which is relatively in the nascent stage) with a levy imposed in the range of 25-29% of revenue, require to be squarely addressed on urgent basis. All hurdles on this count should be removed forthwith so that telecom/digital network can expand fast while ensuring service quality to the public.”

The panel, headed by former law minister Veerappa Moily, also wants sharing of networks among all telecom companies, including those in the public sector, and “right of way” from state agencies for telecom service providers while building their infrastructure. (Source: Hindustan Times)

COAI seeks talks with TRAI on results of new call drop norms

COAI seeks talks with TRAI on results of new call drop normsCellular association COAI has said telecom regulator TRAI must meet players to discuss the results of the new call drop norms, post December. The difficulties faced by telcos and outcome of the new stringent Quality of Service (QoS) formula applied should be discussed before results are made public by the regulator, Rajan Mathews, Director General of Cellular Operators’ Association of India (COAI), told PTI. Asked about COAI’s demands, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Chairman R S Sharma said it is always “open for discussions with telcos” but did not comment on specifics.

Mathews, meanwhile, said that QoS is an area of concern, as the new methodology is “more stringent“.
“We have said work with us. We know there is a problem but it is not as if there is across-the-board failure,” Mathews said.
Under the new, stricter call drop rules, telecom operators may face a maximum penalty of Rs. 10 lakh for call drops which will now be measured at mobile tower level instead of the telecom circle.

“We expect early January they (TRAI) may come out with the outcome (of assessment as per new rules) and so we are saying first meet with us, the industry, before you go public,” Mathews said.

A meeting between telcos and regulator would enable both sides to “understand” the results of new QoS parameters. ”... (this is) to understand what are results of implementation...are there any anomalies... what is causing them? Does something need to be tweaked in the methodology and measurement,” he said, adding that penalties too should not be imposed right away. In September, COAI had asked TRAI to defer the implementation of the new call drop norms by six months, but that request was turned down by the regulator.
As per the new QoS rules that came into force from October 1, TRAI has proposed financial disincentive in the range of Rs. 1-5 lakh in a graded penalty system depending on the performance of a network, with stringent fines for repeat violations.

However, there is cap of Rs. 10 lakh on financial disincentive. The previous rules did not address temporary issues in telecom network like non-functioning of mobile towers or geographical issues like network quality in an underserved town. TRAI was also of the view that the average calculated at the circle level may hide many issues.

It has now decided that 90 per cent BTSes (base transceiver stations) should meet 2 per cent call drop benchmark (in a quarter).
Many other parameters too have been tightened, and the regulator has also fixed benchmark for radio-link time out technology (RLT) -- allegedly used by operators for masking call drops. (Source: The Hindu BusinessLine)

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