New telecom bill likely to be in place in 6 months: Union Minister Vaishnaw

Union Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw

(File Photo) Union Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw addresses a press conference at Media Center in New Delhi on Wednesday, July 27, 2022.

Photo: IANS

Two days after the release of the draft version of the Electronics & Information Technology on Telecom Bill 2022, Union Telecoms Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said Friday the bill is expected to come into force by May.

“I see a time frame of 6 to 10 months, but we are in no hurry,” said the minister.

The Department of Telecom (DoT) has set a deadline of October 20 for the bill. The bill, if passed, would replace three acts: the Indian Telegraph Act of 1885, the Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act of 1933, and the Telegraph Wires (Unlawful Possession) Act of 1950.

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The bill would provide legal protection for right-of-way measures and pave the way for faster permits and solutions for damaged towers and fibers.

β€œThe focus is on the effective use of the spectrum. It has now been legally secured. Existing rules and regulations continue, some significant reforms have been introduced,” Vaishnaw said Friday.

The draft law aims to broaden the definition of telecommunications to include OTT communication services, Internet-based communication services and broadcasting services, among others.

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The term “telecommunications services” has been defined to include broadcast services, email, voicemail, voice, video and data communications services, audiotex services, videotex services, fixed and mobile communications services, internet and broadband services, satellite communications services, internet-based communications services , shipboard and sea connection services, interpersonal communication services, machine-to-machine communication services, over-the-top (OTT) communication services provided to users via telecommunications, according to the draft.

The draft (telecom) law focuses on user security, both service providers and users should know the caller’s identity. Because of technology, the distinction between black and white voice and data calls disappeared. Therefore, all platforms used to make calls should be put under the same regulation, he added.

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The minister added that after the consultation process, a final draft of the bill will be prepared, which will go through the parliamentary committee process and eventually to Parliament.

β€œIndia has the potential to be a leader in the telecoms sector. With this in mind, the scope of the USOF (Universal Service Obligation Fund) has been expanded. PM has been clear that we need to build 5G services alongside global standards and be a global leader in 6G technology,” Vaishnaw said.

The bill proposes several

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