Regulators

TRAI to meet telecom players next month to fix 2019 agenda

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MUMBAI: To fix the agenda to be taken up in next calendar year, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is expected to meet telecom industry players next month. The discussion, which is now an annual feature, is likely to involve a wider set of players in the telecom sector this time including operators, infrastructure providers and others.

“The meeting will take place next month. We will talk to them and ask them about the items they think should be taken up in the next calendar year,” TRAI chairman RS Sharma said on Monday on the sidelines of an interactive session on ‘New Regulatory Framework for Broadcasting and Cable Services’, according to a PTI report.

As Sharma noted, this time it would not be limited to telecom service providers alone but a broader consultation to figure out the new areas to be deliberated next year.

While the regulatory body launched a consultation to explore the regulatory framework for OTT apps like WhatsApp, Facebook and Google Duo that provide calling and messaging services similar to that by telcos, he also added that TRAI will be able to finalise its views on the issue of a regulatory framework for OTT players in the coming 5-6 months.

Supreme Court recently dismissed a petition challenging TRAI’s March 2017 regulations and tariff order paving the way for implementation of the order for the broadcast sector. Sharma while addressing the interactive session said the new comprehensive framework for the sector entailing tariffs, service quality and interconnect aspects, is aimed at “growth”.

“It is not aimed at hurting players but ensuring growth of the sector in an orderly manner and keeps the interest of stakeholders in mind,” Sharma said.

Local cable operators and multi system operators raised concerns on issues ranging from operationalising the new norms to ‘a la carte rates’. He urged players to give the new framework a fighting chance along with cautioning that technological changes, which improve service quality and enhance capacity, can also be disruptive.

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