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Telcos urge govt to reject TRAI's proposal to allow unlicensed companies in public Wi-Fi space

July 09, 2018

Telecom companies and industry associations have requested the government to reject the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) proposal to allow unlicensed players to establish low cost Wi-Fi-based internet networks in public places.

As per the telcos, implementation of TRAI’s proposal would be illegal, adversely impact operators and create unfair competition while also robbing the government of substantial revenues. Further, it would contradict the TRAI Act, 1997, and also violate the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885.

TRAI, in 2017, had suggested Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to adopt a registration mechanism for internet services over public Wi-Fi networks. It had suggested new categories of unlicensed players — public data office aggregators (PDOAs) and public data offices (PDOs). These entities would be exempt from paying any statutory charges and licence fees or even complying with security conditions as adhered to by licensed operators.

According to the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), internet services over public Wi-Fi networks must only be allowed through a UL-VNO (virtual network operator) permit.

The Internet Service Providers Association of India (ISPAI), has also asserted that implementation of TRAI’s proposal would severely affect the business case of small ISPs since they would have to compete with unlicensed entities.

 
 

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