Sibal unveils 100-day agenda

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New Delhi: Within two months of taking charge, Communications and IT Minister Kapil Sibal on Saturday set about putting his house in order by announcing work on a new telecom policy for greater transparency, tackling cyber crime and leveraging the vast postal network for rural services.

Sibal, who was given charge of the ministry after A Raja resigned in November over allegations of a scam in 2G spectrum allocation, said that a new and comprehensive National Telecom Policy 2011 will be formulated and would spell out "clear and transparent" guidelines.

"Eleven years have passed since NTP`99 and many changes have taken place thereafter. Action will be initiated to formulate a comprehensive NTP 2011," the Minister told reporters after releasing the 100-day agenda for his ministry.

He, however, did not elaborate if changes would be made to the existing NTP`99 policy in respect of allocation of spectrum on the basis of first-come first-served. Sources, however, said that revenue share would continue to be the regime for payment of licence fee by operators.

The Department of Telecom (DoT) will hold consultations with key stakeholders to evolve a "clear and transparent" regime covering licencing, spectrum allocation, tariffs/pricing, linkage with roll-out performance, spectrum sharing, trading and mergers and acquisition.

The announcement comes on the heels of the controversy surrounding the allocation of 2G spectrum in 2008 at 2001 prices.

On the increasing complaints over pesky calls from telemarketers, he said regulator TRAI`s recommendations on ending the nuisance would come into effect from February 1 and without further delay.

For the Department of Post, Sibal has plans to collaborate with leading banks — IDBI, HSBC and ICICI Bank — to provide cards (on the line of credit cards) to rural people in order to facilitate non-cash based transactions for purchase of products and services.

The card — `White label Pre-paid Cards` — will come with pre-determined cash value and could be operated at merchant locations, ATMs and designated post offices subject to approval by the Reserve Bank of India.

To tackle the menace of cyber crime, Sibal said the government will frame and notify rules for data protection and liabilities of service providers under the Information Technology Act as part of the 100-day agenda.

Rules will be framed in respect of key sections viz 43A (Data Protection), 70A (Protection of Critical Information Infrastructure), 70B (Agency to handle Cyber Security), 79 (Liabilities of Service Providers) relating to cyber security in the Information Technology Act, he said.

On the focus of the new telecom policy, he said three elements — reasonable revenue for government, affordable services to users and robust growth of the sector — would be kept in mind while framing the new policy.

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