Extant rules choke growth, telecom bill needs review: Broadband India Forum


India Forum has sought a critical review of the draft telecommunications bill as the current provisions will “stifle innovation and affect investor sentiment.”

The BIF, which represents IT and tech giants, also believes that the bill also weakens the role of the telecom sector regulator and makes it subservient to the government.

T V Ramachandran, president, India Forum said “Some of the provisions of the draft Indian Telecommunications Bill 2022 unfortunately appear to be prohibitive rather than facilitating or enabling for the larger digital ecosystem in the country. The provisions seem to take us back to the pre-1997 era by diluting powers of the regulator. This could lead to the damage of investor confidence and undermining of the independence of the regulatory authority…The bill which should actually be forward-looking, is on the contrary, taking us back to the older telecommunications era.”

The draft bill has proposed to expand the definition of to include over-the-top platforms such as WhatsApp, Signal, and .

BIF said the are the backbone of the digital economy and added that subjecting them to licensing could stifle the growth, kill innovation and constrict Prime Minister’s flagship mission of Startup India. It added that the majority of the OTT communication services ecosystem is being developed by a number of startups, SME, members from academia and professionals.

The forum said the bill also does not give clarity on assignment of shared spectrum for satellite communication services, unlicensed spectrum for public Wifi use among others.

“The proposed bill will have wider and long-term implications on the future of other sectors as well, especially with 5G being deployed soon and 6G in the offing. We firmly believe that detailed consultations with all stakeholders is of paramount importance to take cohesive decisions which are based on national and consumer interest,” BIF said.

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