The Ministry of Communications, Government of India has released the draft Indian Telecommunications Bill 2022, based on a public consultative process it had initiated earlier to develop a modern and future-ready legal framework in telecommunications. In July 2022, a Consultation Paper on ‘Need for a new legal framework governing Telecommunication in India’ was published and comments were invited.
Based on the consultations and deliberations, the Ministry has now prepared the draft Indian Telecommunication Bill, 2022. As per the Explanatory note put by the Ministry, the bill seeks to “simplify the framework for mergers, demergers and acquisitions, or other forms of restructuring, by only requiring intimation to the licensing authority.” Further, in the case of a default on payment, the Government will consider extraordinary circumstances such as consumer interest, financial stress, maintaining competition in the sector, or reliability and continued supply of services to decide on deferment of the amount, write-off or conversion of the amount into shares, through a special enabling framework.
The Draft Bill also expands the definition of telecommunication services to include broadcasting services, electronic mail, voice mail, voice, video and data communication services, audiotex services, videotex services, fixed and mobile services, internet and broadband services, satellite-based communication services, internet-based communication services, in-flight and maritime connectivity services, interpersonal communications services, machine to machine communication services and over-the-top (OTT) communication services which is made available to users by telecommunication.
India is the world’s second-largest telecommunication ecosystem, employing more than 4 million people and contributing to about 8% of the country’s GDP. The existing framework for the telecommunications industry is based on the archaic Indian Telegraph Act of 1885. The draft Bill and Explanatory note can be accessed on the Indian Telecommunications website. Comments can be sent to the email ID: firstname.lastname@example.org. According to the site, the last date for sending the comments is October 20, 2022.