The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued a supplementary consultation paper on ‘Roadmap to Promote Broadband Connectivity and Enhanced Broadband Speed’.

The move follows concerns raised by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) on March 12, 2021 around likelihood of misuse of the exemption by telcos. DoT had raised certain new issues like exemption of the licence fee on the revenues earned from fixed-line broadband keeping in view the current factual matrix and relevant issues, likelihood of misuse by the licensees through misappropriation of revenues due to the proposed exemption, TRAI said in its consultation paper.

The regulator has asked industry stakeholders whether proliferation of fixed-line broadband services can be better promoted by providing direct benefit transfer (DBT) to subscribers of fixed-line broadband services. Further, TRAI has asked whether indirect incentives in the form of exemption of licence fee on revenues earned from fixed-line broadband services, or direct incentives based on an indisputable metric should be provided. Meanwhile, it also raised questions as to whether demand can be created for such services in remote and rural areas where subscribers cannot afford the tariffs of fixed connections. Besides, TRAI has also asked what form of incentivisation is required for pushing broadband service providers to expand their services.

Further, the regulator has asked whether DBT scheme be made applicable to all or a particular segment of fixed-line broadband subscribers. If such a scheme be launched, what should be the amount of DBT for each connection and the duration of this subsidy.

In this regard, TRAI has asked stakeholders to submit their comments and counter-comments by June 3, 2021 and June 10, 2021 respectively.