• The draft Telecoms Act 2022 provides the central government with an appropriate framework to prescribe measures to protect telecoms users. Therefore, provisions regarding unknown caller identities were included in the bill. Users also need to be protected from calls they want to avoid. The bill creates a legal framework to prevent users from being harassed by unwanted calls and messages.
• The draft law recognizes the world-established principle of exclusive central government privilege in relation to telecommunications services, telecommunications networks, telecommunications infrastructure and frequencies.
• The draft Telecommunications Act proposes exempting from interception press releases by correspondents accredited to the central or state governments intended for publication in India.
• The draft law has set legal requirements for frequency assignment. Frequencies should be auctioned off with priority, it says. For certain functions related to government and public interest, such as defense, transportation and research, the bill proposes allocation through the administrative process.
• In another important clause, the draft bill proposes that telecommunications and Internet providers should waive fees and penalties. However, in the event of breach of the terms of any license, registration, permit or assignment granted, the Center should be able to impose penalties.
• However, under the draft Telecommunications Act, the press release exception will not be extended in the event of a public emergency or in the interest of public safety, sovereignty, integrity or security of India, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, or to deter incitement to commit a crime .
• The bill also proposes a fee refund if an ISP or telecom operator offers to relinquish the license. The deadline for soliciting comments on the bill is October 20.
• The bill states that the center may “waive part or all of any fees, including entry fees, royalties, registration fees or other fees or charges, interest, additional charges or penalties” for any licensee or registered entity under the Telecom Rules.
• The draft law provides for the right to appeal to the Appellate Authority. It also creates a provision allowing the central government to set up an alternative dispute resolution mechanism such as arbitration, mediation or other dispute resolution mechanisms.
The draft law provides for a uniform and non-discriminatory legal framework that regulates:
(a) construction of a telecommunications infrastructure on public land; and
(b) Authorization provisions relating to private property.
The draft Telecommunications Act seeks to simplify the framework for mergers, divisions and acquisitions or other forms of restructuring by requiring only notification to the regulatory authority.
The bill aims to expand the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) into the Telecommunication Development Fund (TDF) by adding more targets for underserved urban areas, R&D, skills development, etc.