Communications and Information Technology Minister Kapil Sibal on Monday said the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) would give fresh licences and renew the old ones for 10 years instead of the current norm of 20 years. The government was also planning to come out with a National Spectrum Act for better management of this scare resource, while merger and acquisition (M&A) rules would also be liberalised to help consolidation of the mobile telecom sector.

Mr. Sibal said all these important norms and guidelines would be part of the National Telecom Policy 2011 (NTP-2011), which is likely to come into effect by this year-end. The DoT was also looking at introducing a new licensing regime to replace the Unified Access Service Licence System.

“The DoT has initiated the process of formulating a comprehensive NTP-2011 for which an internal committee has been constituted to look at a variety of issues ranging from licensing, spectrum pricing and its sharing, M&As, broadband and restructuring of the DoT,” Mr. Sibal said at a press conference here.

“Under the NTP-2011, companies will have to file an application 30 months prior for renewal of telecom licences, while it will be renewed for 10 years, unlike 20 years as of now. Besides considering de-linking of spectrum from licence, we have decided to form a drafting committee for a National Spectrum Act under Judge (retired) Shivraj V. Patil,” he said.

The DoT was yet to decide on the pricing mechanism for 2G spectrum, on which fresh recommendations was submitted by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

Though M&A rules would be liberalised further, it would be ensured that at least six operators were there in each circle to ensure sufficient competition. They may also allow the sharing of spectrum but under certain conditions, besides conducting regular audit of spectrum. Headed by the Prime Minister's IT adviser Sam Pitroda, the DoT would constitute a broadband committee to look into the issues related to national broadband plan.

Mr. Sibal said the DoT would bring in a new licensing regime, under which four categories of licences would be issued — Unified Licence, Class Licence, Licence through Authorisation and Broadcasting licence. The new licensing framework proposal for the NTP-2011 is based on the TRAI recommendations given in May, 2010 and October, 2003. “Once finalised, all these proposals will be sent to the Telecom Commission for final clearance,” he said.

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