Telecom Sector in India

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Telecom reforms was initiated in 1994, there were three incumbents in the fixed service sector, namely DoT (Department of Telecom), MTNL and VSNL. Of these, DoT operated in all parts of the country except Delhi and Mumbai. MTNL operated in Delhi and Mumbai and VSNL provided international telephony.  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 targets and pricing policy for all operators and service providers. Further changes in the regulatory system took place with the TRAI Act of 2000 that aimed at restoring functional clarity and improving regulatory quality. TRAI can frame regulations and can levy fees and charges for telecom services as deemed necessary.  The regulatory body also has a separate fund (called the TRAI General Fund) to facilitate its functioning. To fairly adjudicate any dispute between licensor and licensee, between service provider, between service provider and a group of consumers, a separate disputes settlement body was set up called Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT). Telecommunications is the transmission of data and information between computers using a communications link such as a standard telephone line. Typically, a basic telecommunications system would consist of a computer or terminal on each end, communication equipment for sending and receiving data, and a communication channel connecting the two users. Appropriate communications software is also necessary to manage the transmission of data between computers. Some applications that rely on this communications technology include the following: Electronic mail (e-mail) is a message transmitted from one person to another through computerized channels. Both the sender and receiver must have access to on-line services if they are not connected to the same network. E-mail is now one of the most frequently used types of telecommunication. Facsimile (fax) equipment transmits a digitized exact image of a document over telephone lines. At the receiving end, the fax machine converts the digitized data back into its original form. Voice mail is similar to an answering machine in that it permits a caller to leave a voice message in a voice mailbox. Messages are digitized so the caller's message can be stored on a disk. Videoconferencing involves the use of computers, television cameras, and communications...
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