The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has suggested that a telecom operator can shut its services without surrendering its license. The notification comes amid intense consolidation drive which will result in some brands shutting shops.
The regulator said that if a licensee decides to close down its wireless access services, which were being provided through the administratively assigned spectrum, it must surrender such spectrum immediately upon closure of wireless access services.
In case of closure of access services through any technology in the entire service area or a part of it, the carrier should be mandated to give a 60 days notice to the licensor and the regulator and 30 days notice to its affected subscribers, clearly stating the options available to the subscribers, including that of MNP facility, Trai recommended.
The regulator has also recommended various timelines to be followed by the telecom department and the Licensee in the spectrum trading process. These timelines will bring greater clarity and certainty in the entire process of spectrum trading, it said.
"If the entire spectrum in all bands is being sold by a licensee, which will result in discontinuation of services, recommended timelines will remove uncertainties and facilitate the TSPs to given 60 days notice to DoT/TRAI and 30 days notice to its subscribers," Trai said.
"If a subscriber wants to switch from one technology to other, within the same TSP, the same should not come under the definition Mobile Number Portability," The regulator further added.
The latest recommendations aim to ensure that subscribers are not put to "undue hardships" when such events occur.
Trai said the continuation of access services is now no longer "assured" due to market-based spectrum management. "Recently, there have been cases where due to reasons such as licensee failing to re-acquire its spectrum holding in a band on expiry of its license validity period; change of technology deployed by licensee; sale of entire spectrum holding through spectrum trading; roaming arrangement coming to an end; etc., there has been closure of access services being provided by the licensee. As a result, subscribers had to face a lot of inconveniences," Trai said.