The Reserve Bank of India has proposed relaxation to the rules on Call and Put Options. According to sources, in a letter to the finance ministry, RBI has asked the government for downside protection to foreign investors upon their exit- the move comes after Tata Sons moved the central bank in the DoCoMo matter. Romal Shetty, ED and National Head, KPMG said that if norms are in place, it will ease entry of foreign flows in India. He believes global telecom companies are looking to enter India and there must be a safeguard to protect the Indian company’s interest in industry. Adding to the discussion, Vivek Kathpalia of Nishith Desai Associates’ welcomes RBI recommendations on downside protection for foreign direct investment exits. According to him, the downside protection is very important for the realty sector. Source:

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India’s tele-density reached 76.55%, with the total subscriber base reaching 957.61 million that includes 569.56 million in urban and 388.05 million in rural regions, data on the sector regulator’s website showed. The number of telephone subscribers in India showed “a monthly growth rate of 0.61%,” the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India said in its report. The wireless subscriber base grew 0.6% to touch 930.20 million at the end of September, or a tele-density of 74.55%, while the wireline subscriber base declined from 27.52 million August to 27.41 million at the end of September, giving it a tele-density of 2.20%, the regulator said. India’s total broadband connections reach 75.73 million that includes 60.61 million urban subscribers, Trai said. Source:

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The telecom auctions in February will see the sale of only 5MHz of 3G spectrum, a dampener to the telecom industry, which was pitching for availability of at least 20 MHz as suggested by regulator Trai. Although the government moved ahead with the process of procuring an additional 15 MHz of spectrum through creation of an exclusive defence band for the armed forces, the exercise will easily stretch beyond one year. The Cabinet approved the creation of the defence band and a defence interest zone — running up to 50 kms from the country’s borders — though the issue of finalizing reserve price for 3G spectrum was not taken up. “This matter (defence band) had been pending for the last eight years and we have worked hard for sorting this out,” telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said. Source:

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Itwas an action-packed year for the telecom sector. It started with the telecom auctions of the cancelled licences of 2008, where the government received bids worth Rs. 61,126 crore. It also saw Bharti Airtel, country’s largest operator, registering its first rise in profits after many months of decline. Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio, which is yet to commence operations, bid for 2G spectrum. There was some bad news too. The 2G scam hearings are still on. Vodafone’s tax case is still pending. Some companies like Uninor were reduced to just being regional players. Others like Aircel and Videocon are slowly becoming irrelevant operators. But the worst was when Mumbai’s Loop Telecom shut shop, leaving about a million subscribers in the lurch. Source:

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Ahigh-stakes spectrum auction, estimated to fetch as much as Rs 84,000 crore just at the base price, is on the cards with a top government panel striking down regulator Trai’s suggested pricing and recommending a higher threshold for the coveted airwaves. A competitive bidding is expected to fetch the government upwards of Rs 1 lakh crore with ease, coming in as a huge enabler to bridge the fiscal deficit at 4.1% of the GDP. The inter-ministerial Telecom Commission, headed by Telecom Secretary Rakesh Garg, upped the reserve price for the 3G airwaves (in the 2,100 MHz frequency) to Rs 3,705 crore per megahertz, about 36% to the Rs 2,720 crore that regulator Trai had recommended. Source:

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India’s Internet economy will grow to almost Rs.10 trillion by 2018, accounting for 5% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), according to a report by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI). Internet economy includes e-commerce services and products, advertising, online content, devices, connectivity, as well as private infrastructure and government spend in these areas. India’s Internet economy, which was about Rs.3.6 trillion in 2013, contributed 3.2% to the GDP, the largest among the developing countries and sixth largest globally, the report said. About half the population, or 580 million Indians, will be online in the next three years, including people from all age groups, women and the rural population. Source:

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Demand for contiguous airwaves – blocks of frequencies that flow from one to another without any big gap in between – tops the wish-list of the telecom industry for the New Year. This is essential for high-speed data traffic and meeting the government’s Digital India initiative, says the lobby group that represents the nation’s top operators. The operators also want the government to help restore vitality in a sector that until a few years ago was a showpiece of India’s growth story, but has lost momentum due to stiff competition and interest cost on the debt companies took on to buy airwaves and expand network. After a mediocre 2013, the operators have seen some turnaround in 2014, and they expect 2015 to bring about market consolidation. The demands for the New Year also include guidelines on spectrum sharing and trading, simpler tax rules and hassle-free permits to lay cables and set up other infrastructure. Source:

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Increasing telecom infrastructure at the village level and taking rural teledensity to 100 per cent will be the prime focus areas for telecom secretary Rakesh Garg who took the charge on Thursday. “It will be prime objective to take broadband connectivity to village level, that is to increase telecom infrastructure. Second priority is take rural telecom penetration from 44 per cent to 100 per cent in coming 3-4 years,” Garg told PTI. He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad have assigned this task to the department of telecom and his main focus will be to fulfil their vision. Source:

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Communications and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad Monday commissioned India’s first hi-speed rural broadband network in Kerala’s Idukki district, an official statement said. Speaking on the occasion, Prasad said the country was witnessing “a new era of digital empowerment” and his government “has firmly set its focus on the all round development and inclusive growth of the country”. “NOFN (National Optical Fibre Network) project is a giant leap in order to bridge the digital divide in India by linking all gram panchayats through the common platform of optical fibre cable. I extend my complete support to this project and I am proud to be a part of this new digital journey in India’s history,” the minister said. NOFN is set to link 600 million rural citizens of India across 2.5 lakh gram panchayats of India spread over 6,600 blocks and 631 districts through broadband optical fibre network. Source:

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Government has prohibited imports of all kind of mobile handsets with fake or duplicate unique identity numbers, a move that will help security agencies in tracking callers using different SIM cards. “GSM mobile handsets with duplicate IMEI or fake IMEI & ‘CDMA mobile handsets’ with duplicate ESN (Electronic Serial Number)/MEID (Mobile Equipment Identifier) or fake ESN/MEID are added to the list of ‘Prohibited’ items for import,” Director General of Foreign Trade said in a notification. An IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number — a 15-17 digit number unique to mobile phones that use the global system for mobile communications (GSM) technology platform — is used to identify a device on a cellphone network. Source:

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