At present there is very low level coordination between different units of DoT and often operators have to present similar types of compliances to different units.

The Telecommunications Department (DoT) has set up a five-member committee to propose measures to reshape and restructure its operation to achieve an industry- and business-friendly approach. The idea is also to reduce the industry’s compliance burden for various processes.

Communications Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw has pointed to efficient governance and making consumer-friendly policies with light regulation. The government had announced a series of telecom reforms last year to address the telecom operators’ financial problems. The government believes that a healthy telecom industry is necessary if connectivity is to be offered to all residents of the country.

“If the industry is strong and healthy, we can reach out and provide telecom services in remote places in Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Northeast, Ladakh and areas of Kashmir Valley. We need a strong industry for that. Our thinking is that we need to strengthen the industry by making structural changes,” Vaishnaw said after the reforms. The DoT is working on another round of telecom reforms, to be announced shortly.

At present there is very low level coordination between different units of DoT and often operators have to present similar types of compliances to different units. The burden of compliance can be understood from the fact that mobile operators have to submit approximately 1,500-2,000 compliances to various DoT field units in a year.

Given that there are 22 licensed service areas (LSAs) or telecom circles across the country, the number of compliances could be somewhere around 22,000. In addition to compliance, there is the issue of overlapping jurisdiction. Furthermore, too many senior officers of DoT do work, which can be mentioned below their seniority. For example, in each TERM cell, there are about 5-6 officers posted at DDG level. The TERM cells usually take care of customer acquisition forms and do field inspections of telecom networks, etc. The same work is also done by Trai. Throughout India, there are 34 DoT TERM cells.

There are 28 auditors of communication accounts offices in the country to check the financial statements of telecom operators such as license fees, etc. and to perform the audits. “This is a waste of human resources. All this work can be easily centralized at the DoT headquarters. The redundant ITS officers in DoT should be identified and seconded to state and local agencies to aid their digitization work,” said a director.

The DoT committee may also examine the design of DoT field units – LSA units, CCA units and WMO (Wireless Monitoring Organization) units in each telecom circle, and propose reforms to ensure full coordination. The committee is chaired by Additional Secretary VL Kantha Rao and has Senior DDG SK Jain, Additional CGCA SK Mishra, Wireless Advisor RK Saxena and Joint Secretary Anand Singh as members. Furthermore, the committee can co-opt additional members if necessary and request presentations from heads of various affiliate and field offices. The committee must report within three months.

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