Telecom sector Current Affairs - 2019

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Cabinet approves proposal to set up 4072 towers in Left Wing Extremism Areas

Union Cabinet has approved Ministry of Home Affairs’ (MHA’s) proposal of setting up 4,072 mobile towers to improve telecom connectivity network in Left Wing Extremism (LWE) Areas. This network would be used by security personnel deployed in LWE affected areas.

Key Facts

These towers will be set up at cost of Rs. 7,330 crore in 96 districts of 10 naxal affected states through Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) of Department of Telecommunications (DoT). These states are Jharkhand (1,054 towers will be installed), Chhattisgarh (1,028), Odisha (483), Andhra Pradesh (429), Bihar (412), West Bengal (207), Uttar Pradesh (179), Maharashtra (136), Telangana (118) and Madhya Pradesh (26).

The project will also provide mobile services to help residents in unconnected inhabited villages which will improve economic activities in region. It will give impetus to e-Governance activities in backward and LWE affected area with availability of digital mobile connectivity.

Background

In the phase-I of the telecom connectivity network project, budget for providing mobile services using 2G technology in LWE areas was sanctioned at cost of Rs. 4080.78 crore. It is on completion stage and there are 2,335 tower sites functioning of total 2,355 approved.

In phase-II, MHA in consultation with concerned states had identified 4,072 tower locations for communication need of security personnel deployed in 10 states and provided to DoT in October 2017. It has upgraded telecommunications technology from 2G and 4G according to the requirement of stakeholders.

TRAI releases draft of telecom interconnection regulation

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) issued draft Telecommunication Interconnection (Amendment) Regulations 2018 to amend interconnect regulations, proposing certain changes in terms and conditions for operators to seek fresh call connect ports from other telecom operators.

Key Features of draft rules

Service provider can ask another operator for additional ports or Point of Interconection (POI), in case projected utilisation of  capacity is likely to exceed 85% over 60 day period. The time frame for provisioning of ports for initial interconnection and augmentation is proposed to be increased to maximum 42 working days.

Telecom operator will have to give forecast of outgoing call traffic of busy hours for each interconnect point once every six months (April 1 and October 1) to interconnecting service provider. The first such forecast has to be given within two months from commencement of these amended regulations.

Background

The issue of inter-connectivity had been major flashpoint between Reliance Jio and incumbent telecom operators like Airtel, Idea Cellular and Vodafone at the time when Jio launched its services in 2016. Jio had accused old operators of not providing it sufficient POIs leading to call failures, while operators blamed free calls offered by newcomer for tsunami of network traffic. In 2016, TRAI had also recommended imposing Rs. 1,050 crore penalty each on Airtel and Vodafone and Rs. 950 crore on Idea Cellular for violating quality of service rules.