Regulations have to be reviewed in light of data becoming predominant, says TRAI chairman RS Sharma

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TRAI chairman RS Sharma

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) chairman RS Sharma stated data has turn out to be essentially the most deciding issue in the Telecom sector. With the commodity becoming the essential uncooked materials over which operators and different stakeholders will supply providers like movies, music, e-Education, e-Health, and many others, there’s a want to overview the rules in light of the most recent improvement. Sharma confused in an interview with FE’s Rishi Ranjan Kala that Trai’s function in this quick altering and dynamic panorama is to make sure that regulation doesn’t lead to strangulation. Excerpts:

Your final time period was about IUC, predatory pricing, QoS norms, and many others. What points do you assume would mark your second time period?
This will not be about a person, however an organisation. As Trai’s preamble says working for progress of the business, making a stage taking part in discipline and guaranteeing client curiosity, we’ll proceed to carry out these objectives. Obviously, the underlying expertise will change, and due to this fact, regulatory practices could change. Means and ends are vital. End is to guarantee wholesome competitors, business progress, client safety, and many others. This ought to be achieved by means of means, that are clear, non-discriminatory and non-predatory.

However, what wants to be factored in the regulatory panorama is the truth that Telecom will not be a single vertical immediately and never merely about communication. It has turn out to be a platform. It means data and communication applied sciences. They have turn out to be pervasive in all walks of life. Secondly, new applied sciences are coming, as an illustration 5G, which isn’t an incremental expertise, however a quantum soar. With new applied sciences, the use circumstances are rising and now the brand new regulatory paradigm has to stability the seemingly contradictory aims. One is to regulate, one other is regulation shouldn’t turn out to be strangulation. It ought to make sure that we must always not stifle the innovation, market and due to this fact light contact regulation is the broad coverage that we observe.

How would you steer Trai by means of these developments and disruptions?
I believe what ought to information Trai in its quest to make sure that it’s ready to carry out its duties in accordance to sure broad ideas. For occasion, expertise agnosticism is essential. So, regulation has to be precept based mostly, somewhat than expertise specification based mostly. Another reality is that many rules in the previous had been made for the world the place voice was the dominant output of this explicit community. Those will have to be modified. For occasion, you measured tariffs in minutes, however now you measure it in bytes.

Therefore, we’ll have now take a look at all rules and see whether or not they’re appropriate with the digital economic system. One of the elemental change that has taken place is data. Data is the uncooked materials on which you assemble all the pieces – voice, content material, movies, and many others. Now you have to regulate the data circulate, data transmission, data protocol, and many others.

Would this additionally imply that Trai’s function and duties want to be reviewed?
I believe the federal government will be the most effective to choose that. Ultimately, it should be Telecom networks that can transport data and data safety and privateness are related. I really feel this could occur, however it should be for the federal government to determine whether or not Trai ought to be entrusted with that job or there ought to be a separate authority created for this objective as data economic system may even turn out to be essential.

Supreme Court has upheld Trai’s tariff order and interconnect rules on pricing and packaging of TV channels supplied to subscribers on free-to-air channels? What does it imply for customers?
This is empowering for customers and brings in transparency in the sector. It brings in extra alternative for customers. This will scale back litigation in the sector. Consumer has been on the centre and should know what he’s shopping for and he/she should not be pushed into shopping for one thing. And the value ought to be clear. We have pushed MRP of a channel, which mainly says that if a channel is free, it ought to be free for client.

With Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel becoming aggressive in FTTH providing a number of providers together with TV channels, motion pictures, music, and many others, would this lead to a scenario, like in Telecom, the place costs crashed to document lows? Will buyer turn out to be the king right here additionally as in Telecom?
Telecom goes to turn out to be a basic platform, offering every kind of providers, together with broadcasting providers. I can’t make any forecast on costs in the broadcasting sector as it’s beneath forbearance. Customer ought to be the king and is the king. That is the elemental precept. Customer curiosity is essential for Trai.

What will be function of Trai in light of these developments in broadcasting?
Trai will proceed to regulate because it has been mandated to do. It may even be guided by ideas of free and truthful competitors, client safety, and many others. We may even proceed to evolve the regulatory panorama with the concept that we must always be facilitator and never strangulators.

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