New Indian telecom laws due after 70 years, says DoT

New Indian telecom laws due after 70 years, says DoT

India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has sought views on the need for overhauling laws governing the telecommunications sector.

A consultation paper – “Need for a new legal framework governing telecommunication in India” – can be found on the DoT website, where it was published on Saturday.

The announcement relating to this says: “Stakeholders have been demanding evolution of legal framework to keep it in tune with changing technology. Therefore, Ministry of Communications has prepared a consultation paper on need for a new legal framework in telecom sector.”

It’s certainly no understatement to say, as the paper does, that technology and the nature of telecommunication have undergone a massive change since the Indian Telegraph Act 1885, the Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act 1933, and the Telegraph Wires (Unlawful Possession) Act 1950 came into effect. An updated legal framework is clearly long overdue.

As the DoT says, a new law on telecommunication needs to aim at establishing an enabling future-ready framework for the development of the telecommunication sector and deployment of new technologies. It also needs to provide adequate provisions to ensure regulatory certainty and promote investment – and to be drafted in a plain and simple language that any citizen who is reasonably aware of the telecommunication sector is able to understand. 

Spectrum assignment and utilisation, rights of way, integrated development of infrastructure, insolvency-related issues, service to underserved rural and urban areas, safety and security are just few of the areas the DoT hopes to address in a new law.

If that sounds familiar, it should do. In March 2021 we reported that a planned Indian overhaul of telecom laws had been announced. It was to go ahead with the help of the National Law University in Delhi. It’s not clear whether this consultation paper is the result. However, the aim mentioned in 2021 of putting new laws in place before the next 5G spectrum auctions, mentioned at the time, is clearly not going to be met.

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