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India cabinet clears new national telecom policy

01 июня 2012

India's federal cabinet of ministers on Thursday approved the long-awaited new telecommunications policy, as the government moved ahead to bring in greater transparency on policies and regulations in a sector tarnished by graft allegations.

This is the third time that India is formulating a telecom policy--the previous were in 1994 and 1999--and comes at a time when policy flip-flops and allegations of graft have marred the image of an industry that until recently was a shining example of the South Asian nation's huge economic potential.

"The policy seeks to provide a predictable and stable policy regime for a period of about 10 years," Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal told reporters after the cabinet meeting.

India's telecom sector is the fastest-growing in the world, and intensely competitive. Investments by new players in the past few years and the stiff competition has meant that call charges are among the lowest in the world.

But a scandal over alleged improper conduct by some government officials and companies during the sale of licenses and second-generation wireless spectrum in 2008 has hurt the sector's prospects. Matters came to a head when India's Supreme Court in February cancelled 122 telecom licenses allotted in 2008.

The new policy is part of efforts to clean up the sector.

It seeks to simplify licensing rules by prescribing a single license for the entire country and the separation of licenses from bandwidth.

Sibal said this will allow users to switch providers without having to change their mobile-phone numbers and also do away with them having to pay telecom companies roaming charges that are levied on mobile usage in other service areas.

Currently, companies need separate licenses to operate in each of India's 22 telecom service areas and get bandwidth along with the permits. A single license means operators will have to forgo roaming charges that account for nearly 10% of their revenue.

Moreover, the new policy calls for liberalization of bandwidth by allowing telecom providers to offer any kind of services using any kind of technology platform, Sibal said.

The minister said policy-making functions with regard to the telecom sector will continue to vest with the government.

He added that "availability of affordable and effective communications for citizens" is the core goal of the new telecom policy.

Источник: Total Telecom

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