Telecom Commission okays teeth for Trai

Telecom Commission okays teeth for Trai

New Delhi: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) will be able to summon companies and individuals, call for evidence and even seek expert advice while conducting an enquiry, in order to ensure that telecom companies comply with rules, especially those concerning phone users in the country.

The Telecom Commission approved the additional powers for Trai at a meeting on Wednesday, said a senior department of telecommunications (DoT) official on condition of anonymity, without saying when the regulator will get these powers.

“It is difficult to give a timeline on when this will happen as it will require some changes to the laws that govern the sector," the official said. “This is just a broad contour as of now and there is a process that has to be followed in order to make such a change."

As part of its recommendations for NTP 2012, the regulator had wanted the Trai Act that governs it to be reviewed to address regulatory “inadequacies and impediments in effective discharge of its functions and to undertake a comprehensive review of the Indian Telegraph Act" in line with this.

These points were amplified by the regulator in the final recommendation submitted on 7 March. It had sought the additional powers, similar to that of a civil court, towards this end.

The Telecom Commission approved the bulk of Trai’s suggestions on NTP 2012 at the Wednesday meeting, said the official cited above. The commission is expected to complete the remaining work on NTP this week and forward it to the cabinet for approval by 23 March. The cabinet is expected to clear NTP 2012 by April.

Other policy decisions taken by the commission include scrapping the circles system and uniting the country under one licence, thereby doing away with roaming and STD charges. This would also enable mobile number portability across the country rather than being circle-specific as it is now.

The government has also set a target of 175 million broadband connections by 2017 and 600 million by 2020 of at least 2 megabits per second. NTP 2012 will also delink licences from spectrum and all future licences will come under the category of unified licences.

Trai is considering the establishment of a grievance monitoring system to protect the interests of consumers.