India's Communications Convergence Bill
In the year 2000, the Government of India introduced a proposed Communication Convergence Bill (the “Convergence Bill”). As its name indicates, the objective of the Convergence Bill is to establish a new “converged” regulatory framework to promote and develop the communications sector (including broadcasting, telecommunications and “multimedia”) in an environment of increasing convergence of technologies, services and service providers.
The Convergence Bill proposes to repeal and replace existing sector laws, including:
(a) the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885;
(a) the Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1933;
(b) the Cable Television Networks Regulation Act, 1995;
(c) the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997.
The main objectives of the Convergence Bill are:
(d) To facilitate development of a national communications infrastructure, in order to provide a wide choice of services to consumers.
(e) To establish a regulatory framework that addresses the convergence of technologies, and defines the powers and roles of a single regulatory and licensing authority for broadcasting, telecommunications and multimedia.
(f) To establish a basis for codes and standards for broadcasting content.
The Convergence Bill proposes to achieve these objectives by establishing a new regulatory body to be known as the Communications Commission of India (“CCI”). CCI would replace TRAI, and would become the sole regulator of the broadcasting, telecommunications and multimedia sectors.
The Convergence Bill has been pending in India’s Parliament for a number of years. It is unclear when the Government will move forward with its implementation.