Regulatory framework in the Telecom Sector
In early 1997, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI)
was established to regulate the telecommunication services and for
matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. The establishment
of the Regulator was considered necessary in the context of liberalisation
and private sector participation in the Telecom Sector and to provide
a level playing field for all operators.
With the opening of Telecom sector to private investment and establishment
of an independent regulator, the matter of separation of service
provision functions of the Department of Telecommunications (DOT)
and providing a level playing field to various service providers
including the government service provider, has been achieved. By
amendments made to the TRAI Act, the entire telecom regulatory framework,
including the disputes settlement mechanism were strengthened.
Tariff Rebalancing Measures
In response to the policy changes in the Indian Telecom Sector,
the tariff structure has been altered substantially. The Telecommunication
Tariff Order (TTO) 1999, issued by the Regulator (TRAI) had begun
the process of tariff rationalisation with an increase in monthly
rental and decreasing STD and ISD tariffs. This rebalancing exercise
was implemented by TTO 1999 in three steps, regaining with the first
phase in May 1999 and the third from 14 March 2002. This resulted
in a reduction of NLD and ISD tariffs considerably.
In the area of cellular telephony also, the tariff rates have decreased
substantially and the regime of Calling Party Pays (CPP) is already
in practice. TRAI is continuously engaged in tariff review exercising
for rationalising the tariff structure which is expected to result
in further tariff rebalancing. The new initiatives taken by TRAI
in the telecom sector to achieve the set of objectives include issuances
of orders on interconnection usage charges, monitoring the quality
of services of all service providers, conducting an objective survey
on Quality Of Service (QOS) parameters of basic and cellular service
in different circles through an independent agency, finalisation
of the System of Accounting Separation (SAS) and deregulation of
tariffs for cellular mobile services under certain conditions.
Grameen Sanchar Sewak (GSS) Scheme
It is a pilot scheme launched on 24 December 2002 by the Prime
Minister through Grameen Dak Sewak Delivery Agents (GDSDA) of the
Department of Posts (DOP), attached to the rural post offices, who
are willing to work as franchisee for BSNL on the existing STD/ISD/PCO
franchisee basis. In this scheme, GDSDA volunteers are called Grameen
Sanchar Sewaks (GSS), who carry a mobile fixed wireless terminal
(FWT) with display unit in a carry bag and visit door to door to
provide telephone facility to the rural population in his routine
beat in the villages.
Based on the recommendations of TRAI, the Government announced
guidelines on January 25, 2001 for issue of licences, with unrestricted
open entry, to new Basic Service Operators in all the Service areas
including the six service areas where private licencees already
existed. India is divided into 21 territorial service areas for
the grant of Basic Service licence. The Basic Service Operators
are permitted to carry their own long distance traffic within their
ser vice area.
Introduction of Unified Licencing Regime
Consequent to the acceptance of recommendations of TRAI by the
government on October 31, 2003, an addendum to the NTP-1999 was
issued by the Department of Telecommunications including the Unified
Licence for telecommunication services and licence for Unified Access
(Basic and Cellular) service.
National Long Distance Service
National Long Distance (NLD) service was opened to the private
sector from August 13, 2000. Indian registered companies having
a net worth of Rs 2,500 crore and paid up equity of Rs 250 crore
are eligible to apply. There is no restriction on number of operators.
An NLD operator can carry inter-circle traffic in India. The licence
for NLDO is issued on non-exclusive basis, for a period of 20 years
and is extendable by 10 years at one time.
International Long Distance Service
The International Long Distance (ILD) service is basically a network
carriage service, providing international connectivity to the network
operated by foreign carriers. In accordance with the New Telecom
Policy 1999, the Government opened the International Long Distance
Service from 1 April 2002 to the private operators. There is no
restriction on the number of operators. The Indian registered companies
having a net worth of Rs 25 crore are eligible to apply. The licence
is valid for 20 years from the date of licence agreement.
Infrastructure Provider Category - II (IP-II)
An IP-II licencee is permitted to lease/rent out/sell end-to-end
bandwidth, i.e., digital transmission capacity capable of carrying
a message. This was opened to private sector from 13 August 2000.
The licence is valid for 20 years from the date of licence agreement.
Infrastructure Provider Category -I (IP-I)
The applicant company for IP-I requires registration only with
DoT. Companies registered as IP-I can provide assets such as dark
fibre, right of way, duct space and tower. All Indian registered
companies are eligible to apply.
India is divided into 19 Telecom Circles Service areas and four
Metro Service areas for the Cellular Mobile Telephone Service. There
are three private operators and one state-owned operator in each
service area. At present there are over 27 million cellular subscribers
and are growing at the rate of over one million per month.
Unified Messaging Service
New policy for Voice Mail/Audiotex Service, in terms of NTP-1999,
was announced in July 2001 by incorporating a new service, namely,
Unified Messaging Service (UMS). UMS is a system by which voice
mails, fax and e-mails (all three) can be received from one mail
box using telephone instrument, fax machine, mobile phones, internet
Policy for Public Mobile Radio Trunk Service
Policy for Public Mobile Radio Trunk Service (PMRTS) in terms of
NTP-1999 was announced on November 1, 2001. The new PMRTS licences
are being granted in digital technology only. PSTN connectivity
is also permitted to PMRTS service.
Global Mobile Personal Communication by Satellite
Policy for grant of licence for Global Mobile Personal Communication
by Satellite (GMPCS) service in terms of NTP-1999 was announced
on November 2, 2001. Detailed Information about these services is
available on the websites of the department.