Telecom regulator may get more teeth

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

The Ministry of Communication is looking to give more teeth to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India to bring stability to a sector rocked by poor policy making.

On the anvil is an overhaul of the TRAI Act that among other things will give the regulator powers to impose penalty on operators that flout norms.

At present, the TRAI does not have any means to ensure that operators comply with its diktat. Once the amended Act is in place, the regulator will be able to levy a penalty of up to Rs 5 crore for each offence.

The regulator may also be given the powers of a civil court whereby it can issue summons and examine individuals under oath. Similar powers have been given to other sectoral regulators including SEBI and the Competition Commission.

In addition, the regulator could get overriding powers when it comes to interconnection issues. This assumes importance in the light of the TRAI's efforts to change the interconnect regime — a move being opposed by incumbent operators.

Under the new rule, a decision by the regulator on interconnection between two operators will be binding. Operators will not be able to challenge it in the telecom dispute tribunal.

However, the Ministry has not agreed to a suggestion for creating a separate TRAI cadre with its own pay-scale and working conditions. The proposed changes in the TRAI Act are being vetted by various units in the Department of Telecom before it is finalised.


Published on May 16, 2011

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