On 21 September 2022, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) published the draft Indian Telecommunication Bill, 2022 (Draft Bill) to replace the archaic and dated regulatory framework governing telecommunication in India, including the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 (Telegraph Act), the Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1933 and the Telegraph Wires (Unlawful Possession) Act, 1950. The Draft Bill aims to consolidate and amend the existing laws governing the provision, development, expansion, and operation of telecommunication services, telecommunication networks and telecommunication infrastructure, and the assignment of spectrum. The Draft Bill has been formulated pursuant to the consultation paper issued by the DoT on the ‘Need for a new legal framework governing Telecommunication in India’ in July 2022. It also aligns with the National Digital Communications Policy, 2018, which sought to amend the dated telegraph-centric laws to facilitate convergence between information technology (IT), telecommunication, and broadcasting. The Draft Bill is open for public consultation and feedback till 30 October 2022.
The Indian Government, through this proposed framework, intends to implement reforms in the telecommunication sector that will introduce a new framework for (among others):
The Draft Bill recognises the exclusive privilege of the central government in relation to telecommunication services, telecommunication network, telecommunication infrastructure and spectrum. It broadens the scope of the privilege that currently exists under Section 4 of the Telegraph Act, which is limited to establishing, maintaining, and working telegraphs.
The proposed framework intends to set up a new licensing regime for:
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