DoT Introduces New Telecom Bill To Focus On Regulation Of Internet-Based Services

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has introduced a new draft Bill with the focus to regulate the internet-based services in the country and seeks to replace the existing legal framework governing telecommunications in the country, reported ANI. Through the new Bill, the government seeks to consolidate the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, the Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1933 and the Telegraph Wires (Unlawful Possession) Act, 1950.

The draft Bill proposes a provision to waive off fees and penalties of telecom and internet service providers.

The Centre believes India needs a legal framework attuned to the realities of the 21st century, explanatory note to the Bill proposed to be named Indian Telecommunication Bill, 2022, said. The Bill will also push for a slew of reforms, including a separate set of rules to deal with insolvency for stressed telecom assets, easier merger and acquisition norms, and empowering the government to waive off dues of financially stressed telcos.

“The existing regulatory framework for the telecommunication sector is based on the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885. The nature of telecommunication, its usage and technologies have undergone a massive change since the era of the “telegraph”. The world stopped using “telegraph” in 2013,” the explanatory note said, quoted by the news agency. 

The note further said that today’s era is about technologies such as 4G, 5G, Internet of Things, Industry 4.0, M2M Communications, and Mobile Edge Computing. 

India is the world’s second-largest telecommunication ecosystem in the world with 117 crore subscribers, stated the news agency in its report. 

The telecommunication sector contributes 8 per cent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employs more than 40 lakh people, the note stated. 

As per the report, relevant legislations in Australia, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Singapore, Japan and the United States of America have also been examined in detail while preparing the draft. 

Under the new Bill, among many new internet-based services, the OTT platforms will be considered “telecommunication services”.

Besides OTTs, broadcasting services, electronic mail, voice mail, voice, video and data communication services, audiotex services, videotex services, fixed and mobile services, internet and broadband services, satellite-based communication services, internet-based communication services, in-flight and maritime connectivity services, interpersonal communications services, machine to machine communication services will be now considered as “telecommunication services”.

The last date for sending comments, if any, on the Draft Bill is October 20, 2022, and they may be sent to [email protected]