TRAI recommendations on ease of doing telecom business in India

TRAI Chairman RS SharmaTRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) has issued revolutionary recommendations on ease of doing telecom business – showing strong support for Indian mobile operators.

TRAI said the process of SACFA site clearance as well as grant of all licenses / approvals being issued by WPC should be done through an online portal. After launching the online portal, DoT may review the SACFA fee being levied on the TSPs. TSPs pay a processing fee of Rs 1,000 per SACFA application. As TSPS are deploying approx. 20,000 sites per month, SACFA application fee is a huge expenditure for telecoms.

Import license should be granted with a defined time-line, not exceeding 30 days. The government should declare the time-line on the portal as well as in the Citizen’s Charter.

Online portal should accept the application and generate the acknowledgement only when all the mandatory fields in the online application form have been filled by the TSP and all the documents as per the WPC’s check-list are uploaded by the TSP.

TSPs should be allowed to reinstall/deploy their wireless equipment into another LSA after giving prior intimation to WPC preferably through the online portal. There should not be any requirement of taking prior permission of WPC for this purpose.

The government should process the applications for demonstration license and experimental license within 15 days and grant in 30 days.

The validity period of the experimental license should initially be six months, extendable by another six months.

When the licensor is notified about the merger proposal of companies as filed before the tribunal, it should file objections, if any, for the merger of licenses also during 30 days. DoT should spell out a definite timeline, not exceeding 30 days, post NCLT approval, for providing approval to transfer / merger of licenses by the licensor and it should be made a part of DoT’s M&A Guidelines.

If the merger results in excess spectrum holding beyond permissible spectrum cap, the resultant entity should be given an option to either surrender or trade its spectrum holding, within the stipulated period of one year.

If a transferor company holds a part of spectrum, which (4.4 MHz/2.5 MHz) has been assigned against the entry fee paid, the transferee company/ resultant entity should be liable to pay the differential amount for the spectrum assigned against the entry fee paid by the transferor company from the date of written approval of transfer/merger of licenses by DoT.

Government should allow spectrum trading in all the access spectrum bands which have been put to auction. The permissible block size for trading in a band should be same as specified in the NIA for the latest spectrum auction held. DoT should amend spectrum trading guidelines.

TSPs should be charged for roll-out obligations test fee only for the DHQs/ BHQs/ SDCAs which are actually tested by TERM Cells. There is a need to rationalize the structure of testing fee to avoid double payment for testing the same MSC.

TRAI said the condition of minimum net worth should not be applicable for renewal of license or migration of its license to UL for an existing service provider.

After the implementation of the online portal Tarang Sanchar, DoT may review the need of revised certification by all the TSPs for every BTS upon upgrade by any TSP on a shared site and calling biennial certification for all the existing sites of every TSP.

TSPs should be asked to submit all requisite certifications only through Sanchar Tarang portal. TSPs should not be required to re-submit these certificates/reports separately in any other forms such as in hard copy or through email.

PBG for a particular phase of roll-out obligations should be released after certification by TERM Cell. If TERM Cell fails to submit its report within 12 months after the date of offer, PBG should not be held back on account of pendency of testing. DoT should review the process adopted by CCA for the refund of bank guarantee and should ensure that CCA does not take more than 30 days for the release of bank guarantee.

DoT should devise a suitable matrix, linking the penalty to the severity of the incident and recurrence of the violation for imposition of financial penalties.