On draft telecom bill, govt and industry set to meet

Even though the government intends to extend the deadline for inputs, top telecom ministry officials are anticipated to meet with industry organisations for informal discussions on the draught telecom bill.

According to a senior official, the ministry will have roundtable discussions with business associations that will include people from industries other than telecom in order to gather a variety of viewpoints. According to two persons with knowledge of the situation, the communications minister Ashwini Vaishnaw will likely serve as the roundtables’ moderator.

The bill is being finalised, and industry stakeholders and associations will be contacted to share their thoughts on it, there will be several roundtables that will be held, an official stated. The ministry has received a number of requests to extend the time for submitting formal comments on the draught bill, he continued, adding that a final decision had not yet been made the representative noted. The deadline for stakeholders to submit their comments has been set for October 20. 

Industry insiders predicted that the inclusion of over-the-top, or OTT, communication services within the definition of telecommunication was going to become a point of contention, with stakeholders possibly seeking clarification on what defines OTT communication apps before the government is regulated them.

Due to OTT players’ opposition to any type of regulation under another Act, there will likely be a legal challenge, according to an industry official who declined to give his or her identity.