The Telecom Bill, 2023
The Lok Sabha passed the Telecom Bill, 2023. The Bill, set to replace archaic laws, including the 138-year-old Indian Telegraph Act, aims at an extensive overhaul of the regulatory framework.
GS – 02 GS – 03 (Government Policies & Interventions, E-Governance, Science & Technology)
- Replacing Antiquated Laws: The bill discards the 138-year-old Indian Telegraph Act that was mostly outdated. It aligns with contemporary needs and technological advancements, reflecting a commitment to ushering in a more dynamic and modern telecommunications ecosystem.
- National Security Measures: The Bill empowers the government to temporarily take control of telecom services when deemed necessary.
- Satellite Spectrum Allocation: The Bill provides a non-auction route for the allocation of satellite spectrum. This marks a change from the conventional auction processes to an alternative mechanism that facilitates quicker and more strategic allocation of satellite communications.
- Single Authorization Framework: The Bill consolidates myriad licenses into one simple authorization, that helps in reducing bureaucratic complexities and enhancing the ease of doing business in the sector.
- Spectrum Allocation through Auction: While spectrum allocation will primarily occur through auctions, the Bill allows for administrative assignment in specific cases. This dual approach aims to balance market dynamics while providing flexibility for strategic allocation in certain scenarios.
- Interception and Service Suspension: Bill also empowers authorities to intercept telecommunication on specified grounds, including matters related to the security of the state, public order, or the prevention of offenses. Moreover, the provisions allow for the suspension of telecom services under similar grounds.
India’s Telecom Landscape:
- Positioned as the world’s second-largest telecom market, India boasts a substantial subscriber base of 1.179 billion (combining wireless and wireline users) as of August 2023.
- Additionally, the telecom sector stands as the fourth-largest recipient of foreign direct investment (FDI), contributing significantly to a total FDI inflow share of 6%.
- The country exhibits an overall tele-density of 84.69%, a pivotal metric indicating the number of telephones per 100 people and serving as a crucial gauge of telecom penetration across regions.
- Data Consumption Trends: Marking a notable shift, the average monthly data consumption per wireless subscriber surged to 17.36 GB in March 2023, a substantial rise from the modest 61.66 MB recorded in March 2014.
Related Government Endeavors:
- Prime Minister Wi-Fi Access Network Interface (PM-WANI)
- Bharatnet Project
- Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme fostering the manufacturing of telecom and networking products
- Bharat 6G Alliance, aligning with the global race in next-generation telecommunications technologies.