By Telecom Lead Team: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India
(TRAI) announced draft guidelines for a unified licence regime.
A unified licence regime is a telecom licence (minus mobility), which
allows the operator to provide STD, ISD, internet, and infrastructure provider
(IP-1) services at a cost of Rs 20 crore.
Under the new norms, a unified licence for Metro and A category circles
is worth Rs 2 crore, B category Rs 1 crore and C category Rs 50 lakh. A new
district-level unified licence has been introduced at Rs 15 lakh.
While the guidelines describe standard
procedures for application, scope of service along expected lines, and
operating conditions such as interconnection, quality of service, security and
others, there is no mention of the migration to unified licence for existing STD,
ISD, ISP (internet service providers) and IP-1 licence holders. At present,
India has roughly 29 STD, 24 ISD, 140 ISP, and over 100 IP-1 service
The entry fee for STD and ISD licences is Rs 2.5
crore, a national ISP license costs Rs 30 lakh, while IP-1 providers pay a
registration fee of Rs 5,000. It is unclear whether these standalone operators
who are most hit by the unified licence regime will be left alone or
compulsorily moved into the regime and asked to pay the additional entry fee for
unified licence even if they do not wish to expand their area of service.
BWA (broadband wireless access) operators could become major
beneficiaries with access to a national licence minus mobile voice under the
unified licence regime for Rs 20 crore. Mobile operators will watch keenly to
see if BWA spectrum holders can enter mobile voice, using unified licence,
either now or at a later stage, according to a report in Times of India.
The guidelines pay special attention to penalties: At the national level, violations could attract a penalty of Rs
10-50 crore; at the service area level Rs 5.20 crore; and at the district level
between Rs 25 lakh and Rs 1 crore.