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TRAI calls for government funding to test new telecom products

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Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) suggests government funding for testing new communication products. Entrepreneurs can test products on live networks under regulatory sandbox framework. Security and network protection must be ensured. Indian companies, partnerships, or research institutes can apply for testing for 12 months. Regulatory sandbox allows real-time access to telecom networks. Testing must align with Digital Personal Data Protection Act. Framework aims to boost startup ecosystem in digital communication industry.

Trai Recommends Government Funding for Testing New Products in Communications Sector

New Delhi: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has suggested that the government should provide funding for testing new products in the communications sector, citing the potential to bridge the digital divide through innovative solutions. Entrepreneurs working on digital communication solutions will have the opportunity to test their products on live networks under the regulatory sandbox framework, as per Trai’s recommendations released on Friday.

Security and Data Protection Measures

Trai emphasized the importance of ensuring network security and consumer protection during testing on live telecom networks. Applicants must maintain records of all testing steps, data, consent records, etc., for a minimum of one year after exiting the sandbox environment. Data generated during testing should be securely stored and disposed of.

Framework for Live Testing

Trai’s recommendations aim to encourage innovative technologies, services, use cases, and business models through regulatory sandbox in the digital communication sector. Indian companies, partnership firms, or research institutes with limited prior testing experience can apply for regulatory sandbox testing for a 12-month period.

Regulatory Sandbox Scope and Eligibility

The sandboxing framework provides regulated access to telecom network and customer resources in real-time, offering an alternative to traditional lab testing or pilot methods. It includes any new digital communication service or technology requiring controlled live network testing with certain regulatory or licensing relaxations.

Licensed telecom service providers can be the principal applicants for testing in the regulatory sandbox, subject to specific conditions. Other entities, termed as applicants, can engage with telcos to utilize the sandboxing facilities. Alternatively, they can directly apply to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) if telco consent is not feasible.

Data Protection and Processing Guidelines

Trai emphasized the alignment of customer onboarding and data processing with the provisions of the Digital Personal Data Protection Act, 2023. Applicants are required to submit a non-refundable processing fee of Rs 10,000 along with their application.

Expected Benefits of the Framework

The regulatory sandbox framework is expected to provide the digital communication industry’s startups access to real network environments and telecom network data to test the reliability of new applications before market launch. Cross-sector cooperation with other ministries and agencies is also encouraged for testing purposes.

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