ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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For an Independent and Effective Telecom Regulator

The prime purpose of a regulator is to defend and promote consumer choice, welfare and quality of service. The Telecom Users Group of India has made recommendations for an independent and effective telecom regulator.

A number of developing countries are, like in Europe and the US, demonopolising their telecommunications. Indian telecommunications have traditionally been a government department. The policy-maker, the operator and licenser (wherever a national telecom law permits licensing) were all one and the same. In the countries of the west, like in UK, before demonopolisation was started, telecommunications were separated from the posts, constituted into a state-owned corporation and then privatised before subjecting it to competition, if necessary by enacting a special law. In the developed countries, by now in all the 15 countries of the European Economic Community (EEC), this process has been completed. Each one of the countries has created a powerful statutory telecommunications regulator who is independent of every operator. In the US, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) has been the regulator since 1934. New Zealand had started demonopolisation and competition without any sector-specific regulator. Competition is governed by the nation’s competitions law. In Australia there was a separate telecom regulator but that too has been extinguished and replaced by the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission. This short survey establishes that prior to demonopolisation two conditions are essential; separation of licensing from all operations and the creation of an independent (of all operators) statutory Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRA).

An important question is who would be in the TRA, what are their qualifications; how would they be selected and how would their independence be guaranteed. Importantly, how is the interest of consumers protected; what institutional framework is there to see that the consumers’ concerns are heard formally and obligatorily by the policy-makers, by the licensers, by the service providers and by the regulator.

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