TRAI seeks suggestions to prevent misuse of fixed broadband licence fee exemption

It has floated a supplementary consultation paper on Wednesday


KOLKATA: One of the sectors that received a rapid boost last year amid the work from home scenario was fixed-line broadband. After years of tepid growth, deep-pocketed players, as well as smaller cable operators began increasing focus on the segment as the demand escalated.

On Wednesday, the Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRAI) issued a supplementary consultation paper in this regard. The paper titled ‘Roadmap to promote broadband connectivity and enhanced broadband’ sought feedback from stakeholders on issues such as incentivisation, licence fee exemption, how to prevent licence misuse and verify revenue from the segment.

Back in March, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) wrote a letter seeking consolidated and updated recommendations from TRAI on the proliferation of fixed-line broadband in the country.

“DoT has raised certain new issues like exemption of the licence fee on the revenues earned from fixed-line broadband keeping in view the current factual matrix and relevant issues, the likelihood of misuse by the licensees through misappropriation of revenues due to the proposed exemption,” TRAI said in an official statement.

TRAI in 2015 had recommended that the licence fee on the revenues earned on fixed-line broadband should be exempted for at least five years. Apart from misuse of exemption, DoT has asked TRAI to give a reference on if the proliferation of fixed-line broadband services can be better promoted by providing direct benefit to consumers for usage of fixed-line broadband services.

Although TRAI released two consultation papers on broadband-related issues in 2015, 2020, none of them discussed these issues. Hence, it started the supplementary consultation.

The latest paper has also invited suggestions on how to permit the use of public places and street furniture for the effective rollout of 5G networks as it would play a significant role in offering good quality services by expanding the network coverage and going closer to the consumers.

“It is also pertinent to understand the process which can be used by local bodies to grant permissions for use of street furniture and the associated policy and regulatory interventions,” it added.

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