The Telecommunications Bill 2023, aimed at amending and consolidating laws pertaining to the development, expansion, and operation of telecommunication services, telecommunication networks, and the assignment of spectrum, was passed by the Rajya Sabha through a voice vote.
On Wednesday (20 December), the Lok Sabha approved the bill which is intended to replace the Indian Telegraph Act of 1885, the Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act of 1933, and the Telegraph Wires (Unlawful Possession) Act of 1950.
The proposed legislation seeks to revamp the current licensing system for telecom networks, moving away from the existing structure to an authorisation framework. Currently, the telecom department issues over 100 types of licenses, registrations, and permissions. The Bill aims to simplify this process by consolidating many of these into a single authorisation mechanism.
Additionally, the Bill grants the government the authority to reclaim unused spectrum and introduces provisions for spectrum sharing, trading, and leasing. Entities now have the option to surrender unused spectrum, although they will not receive compensation from the government.
Moreover, the Bill incorporates provisions from the Telegraph Act concerning the interception or surveillance of telecommunications. It provides the Union government with the power to take control of a telecom network in cases of public emergencies or safety concerns.
Nishtha Anushree is Senior Sub-editor at Swarajya. She tweets at @nishthaanushree.
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