NEW DELHI: India’s Telecom Commission, the apex decision making body at the telecom department, on Friday approved extension of time period for the payment of spectrum bought in auctions by telecom companies to 16 years from the current 10 years. The commission also approved recommendation of the inter-ministerial group (IMG) — tasked with finding a remedy to the financial difficulties of the telecom sector — to lower interest rate charged over penalties imposed on service providers with slight modification, a government source said.
“Telecom Commission has approved IMG recommendation to extend spectrum payment period to 16 years from 10 years at present. It has also approved lowering of interest rate on penalties imposed on telecom operator. It will be now charged on the basis of MCLR plus 400 basis points instead of prime lending rate,” the source said.
The Telecom Commission also cleared path for formulating a draft of new National Telecom Policy (NTP).
“We expect the draft of the policy to be sent to the Cabinet by January and its approval by March,” the source said.
The guiding principal of the NTP will be a vision as per the Digital India programme and telecom will act as enabler.
The NTP will focus on affordable services with good quality of service, consumer protection, data and cyber security etc, the source said.
The commission has also approved installation of 2,817 mobile towers in the North East with an outlay of about Rs. 2,258 crore.
The inter-ministerial panel also cleared recommendation of regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to mandate that every building plan should have duct for telecom cable and the completion certificate to the building should be given only if it has incorporated duct in the building.
“This move will boost telecom connectivity inside the building. Now, the telecom ministry will write to the Ministry of Urban Development for implementation of this decision. Some part of the recommendations like sharing of the duct in buildings should be mandatory will be sent back to Trai,” the source said.
The inter-ministerial panel has given nod to grant Rs. 1,231 crore to the Telangana government for roll-out of second phase of Bharat Net project in the state along with its drinking water project Mission Bhagiratha.