The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on Tuesday recommended a licensing framework and a regulatory mechanism for submarine cables in India. The operation and maintenance of cable landing stations and submarine cables should be accorded ‘‘essential services’’ status, the regulator said.
The regulator has also recommended amending the ILD/ISP-A (international long distance/internet service provider Category A) permits to include two categories of cable landing station (CLS) locations — the main facility and the fibre distribution point.
The Trai has suggested that the owner of the main CLS facility be mandated to seek all approvals for an international submarine cable (SMC) landing in India.
The SMC or subsea cables, which are thousands of kilometres in length, are laid on the ocean floor and digitally connect countries. They transmit high volumes of data rapidly. The SMCs, typically, connect terrestrial telecom networks, and the CLS is the location where they make landfall.
“The recommendation that Indian entity-owned vessels will address undersea cable maintenance delays and reduce reliance on foreign providers for repairing subsea cables along the Indian coastline is welcomed by the industry.
“The recommendation that the Indian entities be facilitated and incentivised for setting up of the ‘Cable Depots’ will help in further development of the submarine cables ecosystem in India,” S.P. Kochhar, director-general, the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), said.
The COAI also welcomed the proposal that representatives of the department of telecom need not be present during surveys of submarine cable routes.
Trai has said such a survey can be done by the licensees under the supervision of the defence ministry.
The DoT in August 2022 sought Trai recommendations on the licensing framework and regulatory mechanism for submarine cables landing in India within the existing UL-ILD/standalone ILD license.
It raised concern that recently some Indian ILDOs not having any stake in submarine cable systems are seeking clearance on behalf of the owners of submarine cable for laying/maintaining such cables in India.