Trai bid to fine operators for spectrum misuse

To give more teeth to the telecom and broadcasting sectors’ regulator, the Centre is working on giving power to the Telecom Regulatory Body of India (Trai) to impose penalty on errant service providers for failure to adhere to any rule or regulation.

The Telecom Ministry, in an ongoing inter-ministerial consultation, has said that “jurisdiction to impose penalties through a transparent process for defaulting in compliance of its orders and regulations as well as for non-observance of terms and conditions of licence is proposed to be vested in Trai”, sources said.

Consultation complete

The ministry has already completed consultations with different departments to move the Telecom Regulatory Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2013, and it will be brought before the Union Cabinet soon, sources said.

Apart from allowing the Trai to impose fines against guilty service providers, the regulator will also get the power to monitor efficient use of spectrum and take action if any company fails to use the allotted spectrum properly.

Currently, Trai has the power to regulate and monitor rates, quality and other |parameters of telecom and broadcasting services to protect consumer interest, but no power to impose any penalty.

Trai, which periodically comes out with performance indicator reports of service providers, has often found that telecom operators involved in billing disputes have lagged in addressing complaints of subscribers. But it has not been able to penalise them.

“It has to file a complaint before a criminal court for adjudication of liabilities. Its ability to enforce its direction and regulation has,
thereby, been severely constrained,” the source said.

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