Demystifying the Unified License Policy

The government has unveiled unified license policy that allows operators to offer telecom services using any technology. It could be 2G, 3G, 4G, IPTV etc. The license is valid for a period of 20 years and extendable to 10 years. On renewal, the licensee may be required to pay a renewal fee as may be notified by the licensor.

As per the license, no licensee or its promoter(s) directly or indirectly shall have any beneficial interest in another licensee company holding “Access Spectrum” in the same service area. So, in this case Vodafone might have to sell its equity stake in Bharti Airtel once they move to the new regime.

The services which come under the new regime are: access, NLD, ILD, resale of IPLC, ISP Cat A, ISP Cat B, ISP Cat C, INSAT MSS-R, GMPCS, PMRTS and VSAT. Operators can offer IPTV services under the service authorization of access service/Internet service whereas with respect to RoW (right of way), the licensee has to make its own arrangements.

With respect to broadcasting services, one has to take a separate license is required as per Cable TV Networks (Regulation) Act 1995 and guidelines for DTH License or any other broadcasting service issued by Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

For getting unified license one has to pay, a one-time non-refundable entry fee for each authorized service. In addition to the entry fee, an annual License fee as a percentage of Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) shall be paid by the licensee service-area wise, for each authorized service. The license fee shall be 8 percent of the AGR, inclusive of USO Levy which is presently 5 percent of AGR.

The licensees should endeavor to create a forum, say, Telecom Security Council of India (TSCI), on a voluntary basis to increase the security assurance levels and share common issues.

With respect to following positions, operators should for Indian citizen. For e.g. chief officer in charge of technical network operations and the chief security officer/chief information security officer, in-charge of GMSC, MSC, softswitch, central database, ILD gateway, VSAT hub, INSAT MSS-R hub, PMRTS central/base station, GMPCS gateway, switches and system administrators shall be resident Indian citizen.

The positions of the chairman, managing director, CEO, CFO, if held by foreign nationals, would require to be security vetted by Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). Security vetting shall be required periodically on yearly basis. In case something adverse is found during the security vetting, the direction of MHA shall be binding on the licensee.

Suitable technical device should be made available at Indian end to the designated security agency/licensor in which a mirror image of the remote access information is available on line for monitoring purposes as per direction of the Licensor from time to time. And this is applicable for Blackberry services.

The license completely rules out 3G ICR or 4G ICR though the licensee can may enter into mutual commercial agreements for roaming facilities within same service area or other service areas. However, any roaming arrangement shall not entitle the licensee to acquire customer in the spectrum band not held or technology not deployed or for services/facilities not offered by the licensee in its network.

The licensee should ensure suitable redundancy in the complete chain of Lawful Interception and Monitoring equipment for trouble free operations of monitoring of at least 480 simultaneous calls as per requirement with at least 30 simultaneous calls for each of the designated security/law enforcement agencies. Each MSC of the licensee in the service area shall have the capacity for provisioning of at least 3,000 numbers for monitoring. Presently there are 10 designated security/law enforcement agencies.

The licensee shall provide location details of mobile customers (in the range of 95-30 meter accuracy in 1-3 years) in the service area as per below mentioned accuracy and time frame (from the effective date of this license). It shall be a part of CDR in the form of longitude and latitude, besides the co-ordinate of the BTS, which is already one of the mandated fields of CDR.

To start with, these details will be provided for specified mobile numbers. However, within a period of 3 years from effective date of license, location details shall be part of CDR for all mobile calls.

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