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TRAI recommends Aadhaar authentication for broadband connections after ISPAI letter

You might soon require an Aadhaar card for continuing to use your existing home broadband connection or for getting a new connection. Telecom regulator TRAI has recommended the DoT to make it mandatory for all licensed ISPs in India to verify their users via Aadhaar ekYC as opposed to eKYC done via driving licenses, rental agreements, etc. TRAI recommendations come after ISPAI (Internet Service Providers Association Of India), a lobbying body consisting of India’s ISPs wrote a letter to it requesting Aadhaar-based verification of broadband subscribers to weed out fake users.

Note that in January, TRAI recommended DoT to implement Aadhaar-based verification for SIM cards. Following these recommendations, DoT made it mandatory for all telecom operators to ensure that their subscribers link mobile numbers to Aadhaar number within a year. However, these recommendations were not applicable to broadband service providers like ACT, YOU Broadband, etc.

ISPAI wants Aadhaar to help reduces fines imposed on service providers

ISPAI, in its letter to TRAI, said that Aadhaar eKYC can help cut down ‘crores’ of penalties imposed on service providers for failing to meet subscriber verification norms. The lobbying group added that around “40% of applicants in rural areas (estimate) are unable to provide appropriate documentation to obtain a telecom service”, compared to 20% in urban areas. This has affected a section of Indian population since they lack proper documentation, ISPAI said.

Apart from this, the lobby group said that Aadhaar eKYC can be targeted mainly at those users with ‘poor documents’ or ‘No documents’. It, however, does not make any mention about how to treat existing subscribers who are already verified without an Aadhaar. ISPAI also suggested two other use cases for telecom companies involving Aaadhaar (apart from eKYC):

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Aadhar authentication as a bundled service: Telecom companies can bundle connectivity services (voice, data) along with authentication services and offer it as a unique service to other companies looking to verify their user base, ISPAI suggested. E.g. Airtel can securely connect with UIDAI servers and provide authentication solutions to ‘Company A’ which is into online food delivery. ‘Company A’ can verify its registered users using Aaadhaar authentication.

Aadhaar-enabled apps: ISPAI also said that operators can “leverage their existing network of retailers to create new markets and revenue streams” using Aadhaar-enabled apps. E.g. Offline retailer A who re-sells Operator B’s SIM cards/recharge packs can be additionally used a retail touch point. The Retailer A equipped with an Aadhaar authentication terminal additionally can re-sell all electronic services attached to Aadhaar. Basically, ISPAI wants more online services (food delivery, payments, shopping etc.) to be bought under Aadhaar.

TRAI recommendation letter to DoT (Dated May 16th 2017)
ISPAI letter to TRAI (Dated March 28th 2017)

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