The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) intends to include clauses that would enable it to forego mandatory fines and dues in the next telecom Bill.
According to authorities with knowledge of the situation, the exemption is expected to help small internet or telecom companies that have tiny debts to the department.
A similar enabling clause would allow the DoT to forgive some of the debts owed to larger carriers like Vodafone Idea (Vi) or Bharti Airtel.
However, officials made it clear that if the amount is significant and of a statutory character. The proposal would need cabinet approval.
One-time spectrum charges (OTSC), adjusted gross revenue (AGR), and the Rs 3,050 crore fine against Vi and Airtel are some of the DoT’s high-profile assertions.
Some of them have disagreed with the DoT’s demands, while others are no longer in use.
Since the final draught of the telecom Bill has not yet been completed, an official who wished to remain unnamed noted that “a waiver option would allow DoT to bring a resolution to many such situations.”
The DoT used to waive modest amounts if payments were missed for three to four years, but since the licencing system went into effect, there were no provisions for a waiver under the terms of the licence, the official continued. “In essence, we are fixing the problem. A clause like that is necessary for the convenience of doing business, ” The official made a note.
The Telegraph Act and the Wireless Telegraphy Act currently serve as the primary regulatory framework for the telecom industry.
These laws, which were created much before, primarily governed voice telephone and conventional networks. A new rule is thus required that takes into account the newest technology, especially data-driven networks.
The DoT also seeks to clarify spectrum allotment issues as part of the telecom Bill.
Due to the rapid convergence of digital technologies and telecom networks, the telecom sector has also been looking for a unified law for a variety of platforms and technologies.