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A Cleaner Spectrum

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After the 2G scandal, the telecom sector is all set for an image makeover. The Planning Commission has set up five committees to cleanse the telecom sector of the scam taint.

The preliminary work on the draft the 12th plan (2012-2017) proposals for the telecom sector expects to enhance the image of the sector in India. The five committees have been asked to submit their reports by August 30, 2011.

During the plan period, the main thrust will be on attracting investments in the rural sector, streamlining spectrum allocations, establishing a single-window clearance to promote manufacturing of telecom equipment in India including semiconductors and also creating service standards for operators to follow.

Department of Telecommunications Secretary R. Chandrashekhar and the Planning commission team held discussions on Monday and decided to set up these committees to examine in detail each aspect of the sector. "It is needed to keep the growth in this sector and to make it robust for future," said a senior official who attended the meeting.

Chandra Prakash, member (Technology) in DoT, will head the licensing and spectrum committee. He will examine the spectrum allocation and evaluation during the next plan period. It will be the responsibility of this committee to assess the revenue potential and spectrum availability during the Plan period.

Ashok Jhunjhunwala, Professor, IIT Chennai, will lead another committee to examine special incentives that could be offered to improve manufacturing, research and development in telecom. It will also examine options to promote entrepreneurs in equipment manufacturing.  Professor K Bhaskar of Indian Institute of Science (IISC) will lead a committee that will examine the security and strategic issues, products and services.

Another committee under S.C Misra member (Services) is expected to suggest ways to determine the quality of service parameters, which the service providers will have to offer. This committee will also suggest methods to penalize those operators failing to offer service quality as per the norms prescribed. The suggestions would not be in conflict with the recommendations of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) but complement them, the official present in the meeting said.

Sadhna Dikshit, advisor Finance, who is officiating as the member finance will head the committee to formulate policy suggestions that will have direct impact on the finances in this sector.

The five committees are expected to meet soon with the members of the industry and other ministries. Sources in the Communications Ministry said the suggestions by these committees will also provide direction to the National Telecom Policy 2011.

The telecom industry has been major revenue generator for the exchequer. The 3G spectrum and broadband wireless access spectrum auctioned last year generated more than One lakh crore.

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