R.S.Sharma will be the new Chairman for Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, sources reveal. He currently serves as a secretary in the department of electronics and information technology. Being an official already existing within the telecom sector, Sharma is well-versed with the telecom issues and also maintains a good rapport with the Ministry.
Sharma worked with the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) before joining the telecom sector. He is an IAS office from 1978 batch of Jharkand cadre and holds a Masters degree in mathematics from IIT Kanpur and computer science from University of California.
Sharma is taking in charge when the sector is undergoing a major turmoil on net neutrality and over-the-top (OTT) services. The TRAI is now in the process of consultation to ascertain if any regulatory mechanism need to be implemented in order to bring OTT services in par with the telcom players. Sharma will begin his tenure with this controversial issue. He is bound to come under criticism from either side, irrespective of the decision he takes.
Rahul Khullar, the retired chairman too began his tenure with a similar situation. He assumed the office while the 2G spectrum allocation scam was on its peak. Khullar faced more adversities during the digitization of cable TV networks in four phases, starting with metros like Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai.
He later turned his attention to packaging and billing, which played a vital role in the success of digitization. Implementing ad caps was another Khullar contribution. Despite resistance from various fronts, TRAI filed FIR against 14 television channels for ad cap violation in August 2013. TV rating agency guidelines by UPA government was also an implementation happened during Khullar’s regime. Government implemented most of the recommendations suggested by TRAI.
Similarly, Rahul Khullar played his massive role in reducing DTH licensing fee from 10 percent to 8 percent, in removal of cross-media restriction, FM’s radio’s phase III migration and many more. When Sharma is replacing Khullar, expectations on TRAI turn higher.
A search committee, headed by cabinet secretary Ajit Seth was in-charge of shortlisting the candidates for the new TRAI Chairman. Bimal Julka (I&B secretary), Rajeev Kher (commerce secretary), RK Mathur (defence secretary), Rakesh Singh (steel secretary) and former telecom secretary MF Farooqui were the other candidates considered for the post.