Spectrum sharing & trading rules to go to Cabinet this month

By: | Published: June 3, 2015 1:00 AM

The much-awaited spectrum trading and sharing guidelines will be put before the Cabinet for approval by this month end...

The much-awaited spectrum trading and sharing guidelines will be put before the Cabinet for approval by this month end, minister for telecom and IT Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Tuesday, highlighting the achievements on the completion of one year of the NDA government. The  telecom commission, the highest decisionmaking body of the telecom department, is meeting on June 11 to finalise the guidelines before submitting them for Cabinet approval.

Prasad said the government has received the report on net neutrality and it will be uploaded on the website of the department of telecommunications (DoT) in the next few days. “We have received the report, it will be put on the website in a few days and a copy has been sent to Trai (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India). As far as the final decision is concerned, the government and Cabinet will take the final call,” the minister explained.

On post offices offering banking services, th minister said he expects RBI approval for payment bank licence for India Post to come in by July or August. RBI received 72 applications for small finance banks and 41 applications for payments banks.

This move is to make loss making India Post profitable. The government wants India Post’s to utilize its vast network across India through increasing its participation in e-commerce activities, payment banks amongst other means to stay afloat.

The minister also informed that from June 15, state-run telecom company, Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL) will offer free national roaming. This would mean that BSNL subscribers, who leave their home telecom circle, will not be charged for any incoming calls, outside their home network.

Another state-run telecom company, MTNL, which operates in Delhi and Mumbai is also expected to follow the suit.

However private telcos which control over 85 % of Indian telecom subscriber base offer free national roaming across the country but charge upto Rs 5 per day.

In the backdrop of frequent call drops faced by consumers, Prasad said the government is exploring the possibility of bringing in disincentives for telecom operators to counter the issue. Stating that telecom operators need to ensure that call drops are “minimised”, the minister warned telcos that they need to strengthen their system.

“Call drops need to be minimised. They (private telcos) need to reinforce their mechanism. I have directed officials in the department to work on a disincentive architecture (for the operators),” he said. The minister pointed out that in his role, he is responsible for ensuring that consumer interest is kept in mind as well. He said his team is working on it and if required, it will be sent it to sectoral regulator Trai for its suggestions.

Government sources said one of the suggestions doing the rounds is that subscribers be offered incentives in case of call drop, which could be reimbursing for the call drop or offering them a free call, as is offered by Grameenphone, a subsidiary of Telenor Group’s business unit in Bangladesh. Telecom secretary Rakesh Garg said a final call could be taken in six months on call drops. Explaining further, Garg cited the example of a Grameenphone which is offering free calls in lieu of call drops.

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