Trai mulls ways to increase fixed-line broadband usage

By: |
May 20, 2021 4:30 AM

But after that DoT had apprehensions about operational issues in implementing the proposal. As per DoT, there could be a likelihood of misuse by the licensees through misappropriation of revenues.

Under the scheme a maximum of 10 companies will be selected in MSME category and a similar number in the non-MSME category. Of the 10 selected companies in the non-MSME category, at least 3 need to be domestic firms.Under the scheme a maximum of 10 companies will be selected in MSME category and a similar number in the non-MSME category. Of the 10 selected companies in the non-MSME category, at least 3 need to be domestic firms.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) is set to discuss ways to increase fixed-line broadband in the country as more and more people are working from home in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic.

However, this is not the first time that the regulator is debating the issue. In 2015, too, Trai had recommended that licence fee on the revenues earned on fixed-line broadband should be exempted for at least five years for wider proliferation of services.

The Digital Communications Commission (DCC), the highest decision-making body of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), had cleared a proposal in May last year about charging a nominal Rs 1 as licence fee (LF) per annum for fixed-line broadband services.

But after that DoT had apprehensions about operational issues in implementing the proposal. As per DoT, there could be a likelihood of misuse by the licensees through misappropriation of revenues.

There could be a situation where licensees may claim the revenues earned from telecom services, on which higher LF of 8% is applicable, as those earned from fixed-line broadband, for which LF is proposed to be exempted.

The apprehension on part of DoT was true as in the past, there have been some instances of misappropriation of revenues earned from different services. For instance, in the past national long distance (NLD) services attracted 6% LF while for access services, 8% was to be paid. So there have been a few instances of misappropriation of revenues earned from access services to NLD by some telcos.

To avoid any repeat in the current scenario, on March 12, 2021, DoT wrote to Trai regarding the 2015 recommendations, wanting further information on a host of questions regarding the matter. The DoT also wants to know whether proliferation of fixed-line broadband can be better promoted by providing direct benefit to consumers.

As Trai is already deliberating on a consultation paper issued on August 2020 to promote broadband connectivity and enhanced broadband speed, it has decided to issue a supplementary paper on the issues raised by DoT. Stakeholders can submit their comments by June 3.

At the end of December 2020, out of 747.41 million broadband subscribers, there were only 22.29 million fixed-line broadband subscribers. The fixed-line broadband subscribers are a small fraction of the total subscribers. In terms of penetration, only 8.93 per 100 households have subscribed to fixed-line broadband services.

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