DoT publishes draft telecommunications bill

22 Sep 2022

India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has published its draft Indian Telecommunications Bill, 2022 and invited comments on the proposed legislation by 20 October. Once passed into law, the new act will provide the overarching regulatory structure for the sector, replacing as the industry’s principal piece of legislation the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 and the Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1933, both of which will be repealed.

Amongst the changes proposed by the new bill are plans to allow spectrum to be assigned through auction or administrative processes depending on need and options to waive fees and penalties if required to protect the interests of consumers or ensure fair competition. The draft also provides greater clarity regarding the rules for insolvent operators. Providers will be permitted to continue operating whilst undergoing insolvency proceedings, provided that certain conditions are met. If the company is unable to meet these requirements, however, assigned spectrum would revert to government control. Elsewhere, meanwhile, the draft bill expands definition of ‘telecommunications services’, to include over-the-top (OTT) communications, subjecting providers of such services to additional regulation.