Friday, October 07, 2011

Draft telecom policy mulls free roaming

Kapil SibalThe government is mulling over allowing nation-wide free roaming, frame exit policy for operators to surrender licence and set up a Telecom Finance Corporation to facilitate investment in the sector.

These, among others, are major focus areas of the draft New Telecom Policy 2011, likely to be unveiled next week by Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal.

Besides, the Telecom Ministry is also planning to allow inter-circle Mobile Number Portability(MNP), changing operator while retaining same number in different circles.

According to section on "financing" in the draft NTP, it has been proposed to create a special purpose Telecom Finance Corporation as a vehicle to mobilise and channelise financing for telecom projects in order to facilitate investment in the sector. It proposes to include telecom sector projects within the ambit of financing from existing entities such as India Infrastructure Finance Corporation Limited (IIFCL) and also to rationalise taxes and levies affecting the sector to stimulate investment and making services more affordable.

The service providers, particulary who bagged licences in 2008, have been facing problems to get finances. The setting up of a dedicated institution would help the players complete roll outs within stipulated time frame. On the exit policy, the draft NTP proposes to frame an appropriate exit policy, different from the surrender of licence to permit easy exit.

According to the draft, the Telecom Ministry is mulling to incorporate framework to increase the availability of spectrum for telecom services, to provide one nation-one licence across country and to permit sharing of networks. Further, draft NTP-2011 will also calls for delinking of spectrum in respect of all future licenses and spectrum shall be made available at price through market related processes.

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