Trai gives till 31 Aug for comments on unified licensing recos

MUMBAI: Telecom Regulatory Authority of Indian (Trai), which submitted its draft recommendations on Unified Licensing on 6 August, today justified the inclusion of 'broadcasting services' under the Unified Licensing Regime.Offering its views on the matter in a supplementary note for 'broadcasting services', Trai has extended the last date of submitting comments on the draft unified licensing recommendations up to 31 August.

The Trai supplementary note has made the following points:

1. Unified license implies that a customer can get all types of telecom services, from a unified license operator, technology permitting.

The operator can use wireline or wireless media. These services would include telephony, Internet, broadband, cable TV, DTH, TV & radio broadcasting.

2. National Telecom Policy (NTP) 1999 mentioned that convergence of both markets and technologies is a reality that is forcing realignment of the industry. It also mentioned that, at one level, telephone and broadcasting industries are entering each other's markets, while at another level, technology is blurring the difference between different conduit systems such as wire line and wireless.

NTP, 1999, further states that this convergence now allows operators to use their facilities to deliver some services reserved for other operators necessitating a re-look into the existing policy framework.

3. NTP, 1999 had also specified cable service providers as one of the categories of access providers for telecom services.

4. The Trai (Amendment) Act, 2000 allows the Central Government to notify other service to be telecom service including broadcasting Services. Accordingly, the Department of Telecom (DoT) vide its Notification of 9 January, 2004 had notified broadcasting services and cable services to be telecom services.

5. In Trai's recommendations on Broadband Services, DTH has been recommended as one of the alternative platform to offer broadband services.

6. It was keeping these aspects in mind that Trai included broadcasting services under the unified licensing category.

7. Two issues arise out of this, namely,

a) What would be the status of stand alone broadcaster?

b) Who shall be the licensor for broadcasting service?

On this, Trai has issued a clarification:-

i) A stand alone 'broadcasting services' license could be issued. The prevailing process of issuing of such a license by the information & broadcasting ministry (including allocation of spectrum in consultation with WPC [Wireless Planning and Coordination Committee]) would continue.

ii) If a unified licensee wants to offer 'broadcasting service' using wireless spectrum, he will have to apply to the I&B ministry.

iii) Content in any case, would be regulated by I&B Ministry.

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