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COAI Applauds Government’s Decision to Scrap Wireless Operating License Requirement

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In Short:

Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw announced telecom reforms, including the abolition of Wireless Operating License (WOL) during IMC 2024. The Department of Telecommunications released a memorandum eliminating WOL requirement for certain licenses. COAI praised the move, expecting a simplified regulatory environment and faster network rollout. This change is seen as a positive development for the industry, reducing compliance burdens and allowing for greater focus on service enhancements.

COAI Hails Government's Move to Abolish Wireless Operating License Requirement
Minister of Communications Ashwini Vaishnaw announced telecom reforms during the IMC 2024 curtain raiser on Monday. These reforms include the spectrum regulatory sandbox and the complete abolition of the Wireless Operating License (WOL). The aim is to simplify the licensing processes in telecom, leading to a streamlined regulatory regime and facilitating the faster rollout of networks in the country. Following this announcement, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) released a memorandum titled “Removal of Requirement to Obtain Wireless Operating License (WOL)” on Tuesday.

DoT Issues Memorandum on WOL Elimination

According to a notification issued by DoT dated March 11, the requirement to obtain a WOL for Captive Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) Closed User Group (CUG) and CMRTS licenses, Unified License (UL), and Unified License (Virtual Network Operator) with authorizations of National Long Distance (NLD), International Long Distance (ILD), Public Mobile Radio Trunking Service (PMRTS), Global Mobile Personal Communication by Satellite (GMPCS), Internet Service, and Machine to Machine (M2M) service has been removed with immediate effect.

“However, for entities who intend to establish or operate a transmitting station and have not been granted any license under section 4 of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, WOL will continue to be required as per the existing procedure,” DoT said.

COAI Lauds Government’s Move

The Telecom Industry body, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), expressed, “We are enthused by this strategic move by the Government, which is in continuation of the outlook for reform-based changes to the policy and regulatory landscape for the Indian telecom sector.”

COAI mentioned that as per the government’s official release, the requirement of WOL for licensees under section 4 of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, has been abolished altogether. They further added that no separate WOL is required by them for establishing, maintaining, or working of telecommunication, including radio equipment. “We understand that it includes the WOL for microwave frequency bands as well, which is a positive development for the industry.”

Benefits of WOL Abolition

“By eliminating the need for wireless operating licenses, a simplified regulatory environment is expected to emerge, allowing for more focus on service enhancement and less on compliance. This will reduce the burden for TSPs and further ease the business for the sector. Additionally, this move will enable faster rollout of networks and higher mobile broadband penetration for the country,” mentioned S P Kochhar, Director-General of COAI.

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