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TRAI opens consultation process for mergers and transfers in telecom sector

What is the news: The Telecommunications Authority of India (TRAI) has invited comments on a consultation paper that aims to simplify and fast track the Merger & Acquisition (M&A) process and has warded off litigation in the telecom sector. The comments can be sent till October 18 and the counter comments by November 1 at advmn@trai.gov.in. Where this consultation paper came from: The Department of Telecommunication (DoT) had asked TRAI for recommendations in May 2019. DoT had said that the telecom entities have filed petitions against many merger proposals before the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) to “quash and set aside certain conditions imposed on them by the telecom department”. What the TRAI is seeking views on? The TRAI is seeking comments for the following issues: Simplification and fast-tracking of approvals: The consultation paper says it has acknowledged over time that some clauses in the existing guidelines may have become redundant, while some are “ambiguous and demand clarity”. So it is seeking views simplification and fast-tracking of approvals, as was proposed under the National Digital Communications Policy. M&A in case of virtual network operators: It seeks views on M&A in the case of virtual network operators, who operate in partnership with telecom operators, but do not have a permit to install core network elements that connected two telecom networks. Provision of MVNOs in the M&A guidelines: The paper asks whether mandatory access to MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators) should be provisioned in the DoT M&A guidelines to address competition concerns. TRAI noted…

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