Just into his fourth day as the chairman of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), RS Sharma is confident of resolving some of the most complicated issues in the sector through dialogue, debate and discussions. In his first interview after taking charge, Sharma told HT that Trai will release its paper on net neutrality within three months. Excerpts:
How challenging is the regulator’s role in technologically-dynamic sector like telecom?
The basic job of any regulator is to strike a balance between stakeholders. In Trai, it is broadcasting and telecom. We also would want to ensure an orderly growth, transparency and fair play in the two vibrant sectors, especially with convergence at many instances.
What are your priorities as Trai chairman?
It is my first week in the office. Issues, including call drops, net neutrality, broadband, among others, have to be dealt with. We are going to do data analytics of call drops, slice and dice it, find out the reason to the granular level of each base station and tell telecom operators to take appropriate steps to resolve it.
Are you planning to take penal action?
Action is the second stage. In the first stage, diagnosis of the problem is important. Anecdotally, I have also suffered call drop problem. So, I want to bring in Trai, and use this as an opportunity to do big data analytics and infuse more technology. My approach is to resolve call drops using analytics, as average results do not give true picture.
When will Trai’s report on net neutrality come out?
Trai had done some study on net neutrality while examining over-the-top (OTT) operator issue. We will take a position after consulting all the stakeholders. The final position paper will be released within two to three months.
Can Trai help enhance broadband in the country?
We will continue to provide our inputs to the government. And we will make sure that those inputs are helpful to achieve the ‘broadband for all’ target set by the government. The government has also asked Trai to provide recommendations on reserve price of various broad band spectrums, including 700 megahertz. This will be expedited.
What will be Trai’s role in broadcasting?
In this sector, our efforts will be to help timely completion of implementation of cable TV digitisation plan (phase III).