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Trai doesn’t need penal powers: Chairman PD Vaghela

Trai doesn’t need penal powers: Chairman PD Vaghela
18 May, 2022
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The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) feels it does not need additional or penal powers to regulate the telecom sector as the current set of regulations was adequate, said chairman PD Vaghela, even as an earlier proposal seeking more powers remains pending with the government.

“I don’t think we need any extraordinary powers, it’s up to the government to decide whether more powers should be there. We have the powers to give recommendations and to regulate tariffs, which we have kept in forbearance,” Vaghela said on the sidelines of the 25 years celebrations of Trai on Tuesday.

The regulator’s proposal to the government to grant it powers to impose penalties on telcos, through legislative amendment, for not meeting quality of service standards set by the regulator, has been with the government since past several years. The telecom department had even sought legal opinion on whether the regulator can function as a civil court or be at par with the Securities Exchange Board of India (Sebi) or the Competition Commission of India. However, the proposal has long been put on the backburner.

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“Trai draws its powers from the Trai Act and the Trai Act is a well-defined piece of legislation and many countries now want a similar legal structure,” minister of communications Ashwini Vaishnaw said when asked about the Trai’s proposal to seek more powers, at the 25-year celebrations of Trai.  

The event was marked with Prime Minister Narendra Modi launching the self-made 5G Test Bed and postal stamp to commemorate the occasion. The test bed can be used by anyone developing a radio network to check whether it fulfils conditions and parameters that have been set by global 5G standards body.  

“5G technology is also going to bring positive changes in the governance of the country, ease of living and ease of doing business. This will boost growth in every sector like agriculture, health, education, infrastructure and logistics. This will also increase convenience and create many employment opportunities. For rapid roll-out of 5G, efforts of both the government and industry are needed,” the prime minister said.

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The prime minister said that telecom sector was a great example of self-reliance and healthy competition creating a multiplier effect in society and the economy. “Coming out of the despair, frustration, corruption and policy paralysis of the 2G era, the country has moved rapidly from 3G to 4G and now 5G and 6G.”

The prime minister noted that 6G services can be expected by the end of the decade, by 2030. “In the coming decade, 5G will contribute $450 billion to the country’s economy, which means that not just high internet speed, the pace of progress and employment generation will also rise,” he said.

“By the end of the decade we will also be able to launch 6G services, our task force has already started work on this,” the prime minister added.

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Speaking on the role of Trai, chairman Vaghela said that the government has created a task force on 6G for participating in setting of standards. He further stated at Trai has put in systems in place for reducing the number of spam calls or messages, but fraudsters have been a step ahead. “We’re constantly working to improve our systems,” he noted.