Telecom regulator TRAI has stuck to its stance that short duration 'demonstration' licences be granted within a maximum period of 15 days as part of ease of doing business in the sector, rejecting Telecom Department's arguments that the recommended time period may not be sufficient.
In its response to points raised by the Telecom Department on its earlier recommendations around ease of doing telecom business, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) asserted its suggestions that shorter timeframes be allocated for grant of "short duration, non-extendable Demonstration licence".
TRAI said it has recommended that the entire process of granting licences and approvals be made paperless and executed through online portal, to save effort, time and cost involved in the entire process.
"With implementation of the online portal, it can be ensured that the application is accepted only after all the relevant information is provided by the licence seeker. As regards grant of licence, the process of consultation/coordination between Wireless Planning and Coordination) WPC RLO (Regional Licensing Offices) and WPC HQRS (Headquarters) can also be made part of paperless end-to-end online system," TRAI said.
As such, "15 days time for grant of short duration non-extendable demonstration licence appears to be sufficient", it added. Global companies import products and solutions for demo purposes and for customer trials. These companies are required to take demonstration licence from the government, and players feel that the process for grant of this licence is complicated running into 5-6 weeks.
The TRAI has, however, agreed with the Telecom Department that in case of mergers where one of the entities holds administrative spectrum (4.4 MHz/2.5 MHz), the demand for One Time Spectrum Charges (OTSC) should be raised from the date of National Company Law tribunal or NCLT approval, and recalculated based on the day the merger is granted an approval.
"...while raising the demand for payment of OTSC, DoT shall calculate tentative demand from the date of NCLT approval, and upon grant of merger approval, the actual demand of OTSC shall be recalculated based upon the date of grant of approval," TRAI said.
Excess amount paid by the combined entity, if any, shall be refunded back or set off against other dues, TRAI added concurring with DoT's views on this proposal.
Industry sources said that the recommendation would ease the future merger processes, as it puts an end to ambiguity and fixes a start date and recalculation date for raising of OTSC demands. However, it is unlikely to be of any consequence for the existing mergers in the sector, where OTSC payment demands have already been raised.