New Telecom Act: Centre can take control of telecom networks during emergency

New Delhi, June 22 (IANS) The Centre on Saturday introduced the new Telecommunications Act, 2023 that will usher in the new era of connectivity from June 26, replacing century-old colonial laws.

The Section 20 of the ‘Telecommunications Act 2023’ stated that the central government of a state government will be able to take control of any telecommunications services or networks in times of emergency after the implementation of the Act.

On the occurrence of any public emergency, including disaster management, or in the interest of public safety, “the Central Government or a State Government or any officer specially authorised in this behalf by the Central Government or a State Government can take temporary possession of any telecommunication service or telecommunication network from an authorised entity; or provide for appropriate mechanisms to ensure that messages of a user or group of users authorised for response and recovery during a public emergency are routed on priority,” according to the Sector 20 of the Act.

Any telecom player who wants to establish or operate telecommunication networks, provide services or possess ratio equipment will have to be authorised by the government.

“The Telecommunications Act, 2023 aims to amend and consolidate the law relating to development, expansion and operation of telecommunication services and telecommunication networks; assignment of spectrum and for matters connected therewith,” said the Department of Communication (DoT)

The Telecommunications Act, 2023 seeks to repeal existing legislative frameworks like Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 and Indian Wireless Telegraph Act, 1933 owing to huge technical advancements in the telecom sector and technologies.

The Act also provides measures for protection of users from unsolicited commercial communication and creates a grievance redressal mechanism.

When it comes to the Right of Way (RoW) framework, public entities shall be obligated to provide right of way except in special circumstances.

“The fee for right of way would be subject to a ceiling. The Act provides a complete framework for RoW in respect of private property based on mutual agreement. The Act also provides that the RoW to be granted shall be non-discriminatory and as far as practicable on a non-exclusive basis,” said the DoT.

It also provides that telecommunication infrastructure shall be distinct from the property it is installed on. This will help reduce the disputes when property is sold or leased.

In line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Gati Shakti’ vision, the law provides for the central government to establish common ducts and cable corridors.

“To ensure national security and promote India’s technology developers, the Act lays down powers to set standards and conformity assessment measures for telecommunication services, telecommunication networks, telecommunication security, etc,” the DoT said.



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