Converging Laws to Boost Communication: A Review of the Convergence Bill

Author:Mr Parikshit Dasgupta

The much awaited and debated Bill, The Communication Convergence Bill, is on the verge of being enacted and changing the Indian communication machinery in an unprecedented fashion. The Bill primarily intends to promote and develop the entire communications sector1, in the scenario of increasing convergence of technologies. Thus India hopes to become the second country in the globe to have a legislation regarding convergence2.

The Bill will replace five existing laws namely -The Indian Telegraph Act-1885, Cable TV Networks Act 1995, Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act-1933, The Telegraph Wires (Unlawful Possession) Act 1950 and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act 1997.

Rationale behind the Bill

The Bill seeks to achieve 4 main purposes:-

The development of national infrastructure for an information based society, and to enable access thereto;

To provide a choice of services to the people with a view to promoting plurality of news, views and information;

To establish a regulatory framework for carriage and content of communication

To establish of a single regulatory and licensing authority with defined powers, procedures and functions and and an Appellate Tribunal

To put it in a nutshell, the Bill facilitates multi-operations and a service provider may provide a consolidated service in basic telecom, cellular telecom, internet and satellite television without procuring different licenses. Presently, the absence of a single window clearance for these services, make it cumbersome for companies advent into and provide all these services simultaneously. The manner in which the Convergence Bill seeks to remedy these difficulties is captured in this article.

Salient Features

The Bill contemplates the establishment of an autonomous body to be called the Communication Commission of India (CCI), entrusted with wide-ranging functions, duties and powers.

The Commission shall be constitute of 9 individuals comprising of a Chairperson, seven members and the Spectrum Manager, as ex-officio member3 The Chairperson and Members (except the ex-officio Member) shall be appointed by the Central Government. The Chairperson and whole-time Members shall hold office for a term of five years and shall not be eligible for re-appointment.

Hearing of complaints and resolution of disputes by the Commission

The Commission shall decide any dispute between two or more service providers on issues relating to spectrum interference, interconnectivity, denial of fair access and restrictive...

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