Given its all-India presence and policy-making powers, the DoT enjoyed a monopoly in the telecom sector prior to the major telecom reforms. However, subsequent to the second phase of reforms in 1999, which included restructuring the DoT to ensure a level playing field among private operators and the incumbent, the service-providing sector of DoT was split up and called Department of Telecom Services (DTS). DTS was later corporatized and renamed Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL). This meant separation of the incumbent service provider from the policy-maker. Broadly, DoT is now responsible for policy-making, licensing and promotion of private investments in both telecom equipment and manufacture and provision of telecom services. BSNL, a corporate body, is responsible for the provision of services.
A crucial aspect of the institutional reform of the Indian telecom sector was setting up of an independent regulatory body in 1997 – the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), to assure investors that the sector would be regulated in a balanced and fair manner. TRAI has been vested with powers to ensure its independence from the government. The government has retained the licensing function with itself. The main issue with respect to licensing has not been whether it should be with the regulator but that the terms and conditions of licensing should involve consultations with TRAI to ensure transparency in the bidding process Some of the main functions of TRAI include fixing tariffs for telecom services, dispute-settlement between service providers, protecting consumers through monitoring of service quality and ensuring compliance to license conditions, setting service... [continues]
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