Thursday, Jul 18 2024 | Time 14:34 Hrs(IST)
Business Economy

Centre notifies new Telecom Act, replacing the archaic Telegraph Act, 1885

New Delhi, June 22 (UNI) The government on Saturday notified several provisions of the New Telecom Act 2023 with effect from June 26, scrapping the archaic Telegraph Act, 1885, with the objective of reducing uncertainties, improving investor confidence, and being a step towards ease of doing business.
The Telecommunications Act, 2023, aims to amend and consolidate the law relating to the development, expansion, and operation of telecommunication services and telecommunication networks; the assignment of spectrum; and matters connected therewith, an official statement by the Ministry of Communications said.
The Telecommunications Act, 2023, also seeks to repeal existing legislative frameworks like the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, and the Indian Wireless Telegraph Act, 1933, owing to huge technical advancements in the telecom sector and technologies.
Guided by the principles of Samavesh (inclusion), Suraksha (security), Vriddhi (growth), and Tvarit (responsiveness), the Act aims to achieve the vision of Viksit Bharat (developed India).
The Telecommunications Act, 2023, was passed by the Parliament in December 2023, received the assent of the President of India on December 24, 2023, and was published in the official Gazette on December 24, 2023.
The salient features of the sections that have been brought into force with effect from June 26, 2024 include: the Telecommunications Act clearly defines various terminologies related to the implementation of the Act, thereby reducing uncertainties, improving investor confidence, and being a step towards ease of doing business.
Right of Way provides for an effective RoW framework, both on public and private property. The definition of public entities has been broadened to include government agencies, local bodies, and PPP projects like airports, seaports, and highways.
Public entities shall be obligated to provide rights of way, except in special circumstances. The fee for right of way would be subject to a ceiling. The Act provides a complete framework for RoW in respect of private property based on mutual agreement. The Act also provides that the RoW to be granted shall be non-discriminatory and, as far as practicable, on a non-exclusive basis.
It also provides that telecommunications infrastructure shall be distinct from the property it is installed on. This will help reduce disputes when property is sold or leased.
In line with PM Gati Shakti's vision, the law provides for the central government to establish common ducts and cable corridors.
Even as allocation of spectrum through auction is preferred way but the new Act provides for allocation through administrative route for specific services. Details and rules will be framed for the implementation of the Act.
Telecom is a global industry. To ensure national security and promote India’s technology developers, the Act lays down powers to set standards and conformity assessment measures for telecommunication services, telecommunication networks, telecommunication security, etc.
In terms of national security and public safety, the Act provides strong provisions to take necessary measures for national security and public safety. The Act also provides for complete control of telecom networks by the Centre in cases of emergency.
The Act expands the scope of the Universal Service Obligation Fund to include supporting universal services in underserved rural, remote, and urban areas; supporting research and development of telecommunication services, technologies, products, and pilot projects.
The Act also provides a legal framework for the Regulatory Sandbox to facilitate innovation and the deployment of new technology.
Telecommunication is a powerful tool for the empowerment of the masses. However, it can be misused to cause harm to users. The Act provides measures for the protection of users from unsolicited commercial communication and creates a grievance redressal mechanism.
The Act provides that the implementation shall be digital by design, bringing online dispute resolution and other frameworks.
In order to ensure an efficient transition, the notification has also enforced sections 61 and 62, which will provide continuation to the existing framework until rules are made under the new law, thus providing a conducive and friendly environment for businesses and the sector.
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