TRAI to play peacemaker on telecoms interconnect issues

NEW DELHI: Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) chairman R S Sharma yesterday said it will facilitate a meeting of telecoms companies soon with an aim to resolve the raging debate regarding interconnection issues between operators.

Addressing an inter-active meeting of the FICCI-ICT and Digital Economy Committee here on Tuesday, Sharma said that issues can be resolved through an across-the-table discussion with the CEOs of telecom companies.

It is learnt that the meeting was held in the backdrop of recent changes in different telecom plans after Reliance Jio unveiled a slew of disruptive marketing initiatives. The new entrant has also been claiming its subscribers were experiencing massive call-drops as incumbents were not providing adequate points of interconnect.

As to why the industry finds itself in this position, and whether it was due to lack of proper regulation and certain licensing issues, the chief regulator refused to comment. However, he added regulations do not leave scope for ambiguity.

Sharma spoke on a range of issues, including the 20 consultation papers released in the last 18 months, and that were in various stages of study. These, according to Sharma, were necessary for removing ambiguity in the telecoms sector, and allowing stakeholders to function in harmony.

TRAI felt the need for consultation papers in order to bring about a comprehensive regulatory framework that will plug gaps in the system and facilitate the industry to grow seamlessly.

Sharma told the members that, with the advent of technology such as cloud computing and internet of things (IOT), ICT was transforming every sector and telecoms players should leverage the opportunities. Earlier, technology was on the periphery, but, in the last decade, with disruptive technologies coming in, it had become a central tool, Sharma said, adding that ICT also brough with it efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

Speaking on competition issues in general in the telecoms sector, Sharma said TRAI promoted healthy competition while safeguarding interest of the consumers as it was “paramount”.

India, he said, already had a world-class telecom network, and with new technologies coming in, services too should become world class. India should strive for next-generation network by employing new technologies such as Loons, Solar Planes and White Spaces, he said emphasising that there was a need to harmonize issues of business interest with disruptive technologies.

To achieve this, it was necessary to put down licensing rules, norms and quality aspects through regulation, Sharma asserted.

Responding to queries raised by industry regarding restrictions on experimentation, innovations and use of new technologies, Sharma said TRAI was in favour of new technologies with appropriate permissions. However, he added that these technologies should be interoperable without being in silos.

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