India Wins GSMA Government Leadership Award 2023

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India Wins GSMA Government Leadership Award 2023

What is GSMA ?

The Groupe Speciale Mobile Association (GSMA) is an association representing the interests of mobile operators and the broader mobile industry worldwide. GSMA represents more than 750 mobile operators and 400 companies in the global telecom ecosystem.

What GSMA Government Leadership Award?

Every year it presents the GSMA Government Leadership Award to one government that has implemented best-practice digital policy and telecom regulation to generate positive outcomes in mobile connectivity.

This is the most coveted Global award in the telecommunication sector, and it decides the future investment scenario of 750 mobile operators and 400 companies which are part of GSMA.

Why has this award been given to India?

GSMA Awards represent global recognition of the telecom reforms carried out by PM Shri Narendra Modi ji. RoW permissions which used to take more than 230 days, now get approval within 8 days. More than 85% mobile tower clearances are now instantaneous. With nearly 1 Lakh sites in 387 districts, India’s 5G roll-out is one of the fastest in the world. The Indian telecom sector has emerged as a sunrise sector and the whole world has taken note of this rise. This award is a testimony to all such reforms which India has seen in the last 8 years.

As a result of the various reforms in telecom sectors :

  • Telecom is now a sunrise sector
  • 5G spectrum auction fetched Rs 1,50,173 Cr.
  • “India is ahead of the world in 5G roll-out” – Ericsson CEO in Wall Street Journal
  • PM Gati Shakti Sanchar Portal – RoW permission time reduced from 235 days in July 2021 to 8 days in Feb 2023
  • For mobile tower clearances, all DoT permissions are automated. More than 85% permissions are instantaneous.

Structural Reforms: September 2021 reforms:  9 structural reforms and 5 procedural informs and relief measures for Telecom Service Providers were carried out in September 2021.

  • Adjusted Gross Revenue definition rationalized:  non-telecom revenue excluded on prospective basis from the definition of AGR.
  • Bank Guarantees (BGs) rationalized:  Huge reduction in BG requirements (80%) against License Fee (LF) and other similar Levies. No requirements for multiple BGs in different Licensed Service Areas (LSAs) regions in the country. Instead, One BG will be enough.
  • Interest rates rationalized: From 1st October, 2021, Delayed payments of License Fee (LF)/Spectrum Usage Charge (SUC) will attract interest rate of SBI’s MCLR plus 2% instead of MCLR plus 4%.  The interest to be compounded annually instead of monthly.
  • Penalties removed: penalty and interest on penalty removed.
  • No bank guarantees for future auctions: For Auctions held henceforth, no BGs will be required to secure instalment payments. Industry has matured and the past practice of BG is no longer required.
  • Surrender of spectrum: permitted after 10 years for spectrum acquired in the future auctions.
  • No Spectrum Usage Charge (SUC): for spectrum acquired in future spectrum auctions.
  • Spectrum sharing encouraged: additional SUC of 0.5% for spectrum sharing removed.
  • FDI: To encourage investment, 100% Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) under automatic route permitted in Telecom Sector. All safeguards will apply.

Procedural Reforms

  • Auction calendar fixed – Spectrum auctions to be normally held in the last quarter of every financial year.
  • License requirement for wireless equipment removed: cumbersome requirement of licenses under 1953 Customs Notification for wireless equipment removed. Replaced with self-declaration.
  • Know Your Customers (KYC) reforms:  Self-KYC (App based) permitted. E-KYC rate revised to only One Rupee. Shifting from Prepaid to Post-paid and vice-versa will not require fresh KYC.
  • Paper Customer Acquisition Forms (CAF): to be replaced by digital storage of data. Nearly 300-400 crore paper CAFs lying in various warehouses of TSPs will not be required. Warehouse audit of CAF will not be required.
  • Process for SACFA clearance eased: To facilitate faster clearances for mobile towers.

Addressing Liquidity requirements of Telecom Service Providers:

  • Moratorium/Deferment of up to four years in annual payments of dues arising out of the AGR judgement, with however, by protecting the Net Present Value (NPV) of the due amounts being protected.
  • Moratorium/Deferment on due payments of spectrum purchased in past auctions (excluding the auction of 2021) for upto four years with NPV protected at the interest rate stipulated in the respective auctions.
  • Option to the TSPs to pay the interest amount arising due to the said deferment of payment by way of equity.
  • At the option of the Government, to convert the due amount pertaining to the said deferred payment by way of equity at the end of the Moratorium/Deferment period, guidelines for which will be finalized by the Ministry of Finance.

Licensing reforms:

  • Allowing active and passive sharing of infrastructure: Sharing of active and passive infrastructure under any service authorization for providing other authorized services to the same licensee.

RoW reforms:

  • Indian Telegraph Right of Way Rules, 2016 have been amended for faster roll-out of 5G. RoW charges rationalized, use of street furniture allowed.
  • Indian Telegraph (Infrastructure Safety) Rules 2022 issued. To protect telecom infrastructure

Spectrum reforms:

  • Delicensing of various frequency bands to promote innovation, manufacturing & export.
  • Spectrum in 865-868 MHz band delicensed for facilitating IoT and M2M, RFID etc. applications.
  • 9 KHz to 30 MHz band delicensed for contactless Inductive Charging etc. 433-434.79 MHz band delicensed for various Short-Range Devices (SRD) applications.
  • The Government released National Frequency Allocation Plan 2022 which will give guidance to the users.

Satellite reforms:

  • NOCC annual charges of Rs. 21 lakh per transponder (36 MHz ) removed for broadcasters as well as TSPs using satellite Media.
  • Permitting backhaul connectivity through satellite to Access Service providers.
  • Rationalization of entry fee for Captive VSAT licensees.
  • Removal of data speed restrictions for different types of satellite based telecom network.
  • In Captive VSAT networks, additional Royalty charges of 25% for the remote terminals has been done away with and only License fee is payable for the remote terminals.

PM GatiShakti National Master Plan Platform for 5G rollout

  • The Telecom assets are being mapped on PM GatiShakti NMP (National Master Plan) platform.
  • So far ~ 10 Lakh RKm (Route Kilometer) of OFC laid by PSUs viz. BSNL, BBNL, RailTel, GAIL, PowerGrid has been mapped.  About 20 lakh Telecom Towers of all Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) have been mapped.
  • PM GatiShakti NMP calculates the required length and route of the nearest OFC to a particular unfiberized tower.
  • Since, the DoT NMP platform is being integrated with State NMP platforms, it shows various assets of States like street furniture, government lands etc.
  • The integrated shortest distance tool calculates the distance of the nearest OFC from the point of interest which may be a non-fiberized mobile tower or a new site for a 5G cell/pole.
  • The 5G planning tool, generates grids of customizable size in a city of interest. By Overlapping the layer of street furniture & mobile towers, a TSP can see in which grid there is no asset for 5G pole installation and a new pole/infrastructure is required.
  • With integrated RoW(right of way) tool, a TSP can see which agencies like State local bodies falling under the route of OFC laying or mobile tower installation.

About Post Author

Editor Desk

Antara Tripathy M.Sc., B.Ed. by qualification and bring 15 years of media reporting experience.. Coverred many illustarted events like, G20, ICC,MCCI,British High Commission, Bangladesh etc. She took over from the founder Editor of IBG NEWS Suman Munshi (15/Mar/2012- 09/Aug/2018 and October 2020 to 13 June 2023).
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