Telecommunications companies seek equal terms with tied network operators

The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has expressed its disappointment with the government’s decision on tied private networks and called for a level playing field, declaring that providers of private captive network solutions must also pay license fees and GSTs at the rates applicable to telecommunications companies on the billed revenue and that such captive networks must remain “truly” private and isolated and comply with security standards.

In a letter to the Department of Telecommunications, the COAI argued that since a decision to enable captive networks through direct spectrum allocation has been made, the government must now limit the scope of such non-public networks to machine-to-machine communication within. only the specific prerequisite and plant automation.

Such networks must ensure that they do not cause interference with public networks.

The COAI said that from a national security perspective, these networks should comply with the prescribed subscriber verification standards to ensure adequate verification and traceability for each user.

Periodic audits to ensure compliance must be performed, said COAI, whose members include Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea.

The captured networks should only be allocated spectrum in non-IMT / 5G / commercial bands, the COAI said, warning that failing to do so would result in a lack of harmonized spectrum for telecommunications companies’ networks, inefficient use of the precious spectrum and losses. for the Treasury.

“At present, only 330 MHz in the intermediate band and 2.85 GHz in mm waves have been put up for auction. “TSPs (telecommunications service providers) to plan their networks properly to meet customer demand in the medium and long term,” said COAI. in his letter to DoT Secretary K Rajaraman.

However, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has “ignored the above issues” while recommending 3.7-3.8 GHz, 4.8-4.99 GHz and 28.5-29.5 GHz bands for private private networks , said COAI.

The COAI further proposed that tied private networks should only be assigned spectrum in the non-mobile service band and no IMT spectrum band should be allocated to such private networks.

“Additional technologies 2G, 3G and 4G should not be allowed. DoT should conduct a periodic assessment to ensure that the allocated spectrum is fully utilized,” it said in its post.

Setting up private networks using dedicated spectrum must be bound by the same security conditions as apply to telecommunications companies – storage of call or data registrations for two years, command log files for three years, keeping software updates, data localization, remote access only from kl. in the country and no remote access outside India, the association wrote.

“Some of the CNPNs can be very large and handle a large number of users / employees and machines for which legal eavesdropping becomes important. They should also be required to install LIS / LIM in accordance with the TSPs’ obligations,” according to the COAI .

These networks must remain truly private and isolated, claimed the COAI, highlighting the likelihood that companies gaining the spectrum for captive networks may be tempted to connect multiple offices.

“Such interconnection is not permitted … The scope of CNPN (captive non-public network) must be limited to the very purpose of providing CNPN, i.e. M2M communication inside the premises and the plant’s automation,” said COAI.

Captive networks must be established by the end user and not by third parties, it stressed.

“Therefore, CNPN owners, like the United Licensee, must own all equipment installed for the purpose of CNPN and not obtain on lease / lease from third parties / intermediaries. Any third party who intends to supply / install and operate the network of CNPN, must achieve the spectrum through the same process as TSPs, “COAI said.

It has also emphasized that use cases intended for the masses cannot be part of captive networks, and captive networks must not be connected to any foreign location / data center for the purpose of redundancy / disaster recovery / remote management.

The COAI also said that since “such solutions can be provided by licensed TSPs that have frequencies acquired through auction in a transparent manner, the solution provider should pay the license fee and GST at the rates applicable to TSPs on the invoiced revenue amount in order to ensure straight play Mark “.

“In the case of a network installed for internal use, equivalent commercial value should be used. In both cases, it should be ensured that there is no under-invoicing and that there is no case of redirection of funds. Alternatively, revenue earned by TSPs should from the provision of CPN is exempt from payment of license fee and GST, “said COAI.

It also made a pitch for “same service same rule”, saying this will ensure investor confidence and continued investment in the sector of rolling out future telecommunications networks.

“Rules applicable to CNPN should apply to CPN / PN provided by licensed TSPs. Otherwise, no investor will invest in a taxed portfolio when the same investment can be made without any tax burden through the CNPN route,” the COAI said.

Trai should conduct initial and annual analyzes and surveys, and such networks should provide the data that the regulator seeks from time to time.

“CNPN should comply with the provisions of the national safety directive applicable to TSPs, including the procurement of equipment from trusted sources. In addition, applicable guidelines / safety instructions / laws / regulations should be enforced and enforced for CNPN networks in India,” the COAI said.

These steps should be taken to ensure orderly growth in the sector and to maintain investor confidence.

“Accordingly, guidelines for establishing captured non-public network by obtaining spectrum directly from DoT should only be issued following a demand survey from DoT and subsequent recommendations from Trai,” the COAI said.

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