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DoT likely to remove separate licence requirement for import of telecom equipment

December 26, 2017

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is planning to do away with the separate licence requirement for importing telecom equipment. The move is aimed at enhancing the ease of doing business as well as reducing the time taken in network roll-outs.

At present, under the Sea Customs Act, 1878, every entity, including a telecom operator with a licence to provide mobile services, needs to get an import licence from the DoT to import any wireless equipment. The provision made sense in the pre-liberalisation era when the government was the sole provider of telecom services. However, given that today 90-95 per cent of telecom services are provided by private players and these operators are allowed to own, establish and operate network, including telecom equipment, the requirement for operators to apply for a separate licence for telecom equipment is redundant and undesirable. Besides, it delays the import of equipment, which in turn delays network roll-outs and also has financial implications for companies. Similar recommendations have also been made by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India and the government-appointed inter ministerial group (IMG) that was created to suggest measures to help the financially stressed sector.

DoT is mulling on amending the regulations in the Sea Customs Act, 1978 in consultation with the Wireless Planning and Coordination wing as well as the stakeholders. This issue is also being deliberated by the working groups formed for drafting the new National Telecom Policy (NTP), 2018.


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