Info-tech

Telecom Ministry proposes new body to manage spectrum

Thomas K Thomas New Delhi | Updated on March 12, 2018

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The Ministry of Communication and IT has proposed to set up a new entity to manage and regulate spectrum allocation.

To be called the Spectrum Management Commission, the new body will be set up through the proposed Spectrum Act. The Commission will subsume Wireless Planning Coordination wing of the Department of Telecom and will get wider powers including dispute settlement, pricing and regulations related to spectrum.

Draft proposal

The Telecom Ministry has taken this move in a bid to separate the licensing and spectrum allocating agencies. While the DoT will continue to be the licensor, all issues pertaining to spectrum allocation will be brought under the new agency.

The DoT has circulated a draft of the proposed Spectrum Act for consideration by all stakeholders before it is introduced in Parliament. According to the draft proposal, the Commission will comprise nine members including the Cabinet Secretary, Secretary of the Ministry of Defence, Secretary of Ministry of Space, Secretary of Information & Broadcasting and Secretary, DoT.

It will also have a spectrum re-farming fund administrator and two part-time members. The Commission will be headquarter in Delhi with regional office in Mumbai.

Dispute Settlement

The Commission will formulate policy for allocating spectrum in a non-discriminatory manner and also determine fees and charges associated with air waves. It will also maintain a public data base for spectrum availability and draw a feedback for future allocation.

The agency will also get dispute settlement powers on any issue related to spectrum allocation. At present, the Telecom Dispute Settlement Appellate Tribunal is the sole adjudicating body. The Commission can ask the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's recommendations but it will not be binding.

While the Commission has been given a lot of powers, the Government has not given it complete autonomy. According to draft Act, the decision of the Central Government will be final and the Commission is expected to follow directives from the Government.

The Telecom Ministry has proposed to set up a spectrum re-farming fund to bear the cost of spectrum vacation by various agencies. The Commission will administer the fund which will be financed through a percentage of money received as spectrum charges and licence fees from operators. The money will go to the Consolidated fund of India from where Parliament will appropriate funds from time to time similar to the way the Universal Services Obligation fund is disbursed.

Published on September 13, 2011

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