The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has brought out a new consultation paper to identify bottlenecks which make the functioning of telecom business difficult and cseeks views on steps to be taken on ease of doing business by simplifying the regulations.
One important aspect of this paper is to seek views on the current Merger and Acquisitions policy changes. This is important as the sector is on a consolidation mode post Reliane Jio entry.
At present Idea and Vodafone are in a merger talk. Earlier Airtel acquired Indian operations of Telenor. RCom set to merge its wireless unit with Aircel. The regulator said, “It is important to identify the bottlenecks, obstacles or hindrances that are making it difficult to do telecom business in India and thus, require regulatory intervention.”
The current rules on the M&A policy front says no operator can have more than 25% of the total spectrum allocated in a circle and 50% in a given band. Also, the Revenue Market Share of an operator should not be more than 50% of the overall revenue market. In fact the just announced merger of Airtel and Telenor also faces the possibility of breaching some of these rules in some circles where both the telcos operates like Bihar.
The consultation paper also proposes to to review various processes including the payment of licence fee, various bank guarantees, spectrum trading and sharing process, among others.
The key areas waiting for changes as per TRAI paper are in the areas of processes such as spectrum allotment and use, assignment and clearance process for the airwaves, approval process for spectrum trading and sharing as part of the ease of doing business.
TRAI will seek to review procedures related to the unified licence, including the acquisition of the licence, compliance with commercial, financial, technical conditions, and compliance with roll-out obligations, payment of licence fee, financial bank guarantee and performance bank guarantee, adding and surrendering authorisations under the licence.
TRAI position is that various processes that a telecom licensee is required to go through should be simplified and combined to the extent possible to economise on efforts on the part of the Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) as well as the government.
“Promoting ease of doing business is amongst the priority work items for unhindered growth of the telecoms sector, and it is important to identify bottlenecks, obstacles or hindrances that are making it difficult to do telecom business in India, and thus require regulatory intervention,” the regulator said.
TRAI will also consider streamlining processes for telecom services using satellite media, including clearances from INSAT Network Operations Control Center, and obtaining approvals from various authorities. It has invited suggestions on whether the clearances process from the INSAT Network Operations Control Centre needs to be made simpler.