Trai initiates discussion on licensing framework and regulatory mechanism for undersea cable landing

Trai initiates discussion on licensing framework and regulatory mechanism for undersea cable landing

Telecom Regulator train has initiated a discussion on the licensing framework and regulatory mechanism for undersea cable landings in India. That Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) said the Department of Telecommunications reached out to them and shared their concerns about some Indian International Long Distance Operators (ILDOs) for not having any interest in the submarine cable system, but seeking permission on behalf of submarine cable owners to lay or maintain such cables in Indian territorial waters or exclusive economic zones and also apply for construction a cable landing station (CLS) for such submarine cables.

Submarine cables are “vital communications infrastructure” of the digital age and “crucial” to today’s fast-moving data-driven economy, Trai said when he released the consultation paper, titled “Licensing Framework and Regulatory Mechanism for Submarine Cable Landing in India.”

“DoT has sought recommendations from Trai on the licensing framework and regulatory mechanism for submarine cables terminating in India under the existing Unified License ILD/Standalone ILD license. Trai has therefore issued this consultation paper to seek views from stakeholders on the issues identified in the reference received from DoT (Department of Telecommunications),” the regulator said in a statement.

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In addition, certain other problems related to submarine cables identified by the suo-moto authority were also discussed in this paper.

There is currently no Indian naval contractor available to support the submarine maintenance activities in and around Indian waters. The dependency on foreign ships or service providers is associated with a long mobilization time for the repair ship.

Trai gathers stakeholders’ views on the need and feasibility of an Indian flag vessel to carry out submarine cable operations and maintenance smoothly and time-efficiently.

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Since the reliability and stability of submarine cable networks is high compared to the terrestrial fiber optic cable network, domestic submarine cables can be envisaged to improve the digital connectivity and infrastructure of Tier I and Tier II cities on the Indian coast.

The paper attempts to examine the deployment challenges and ways to overcome them to promote domestic submarine cables in India.

“Also, to explore the benefits and challenges of running stubs, a new concept for running pre-routed dark fiber with open ends from the CLS to through beach shaft (BMH) into territorial waters for forthcoming new cables was discussed to gather stakeholders’ views,” Trai said.

Issues related to challenges in establishing terrestrial connectivity between disparate sites cable landing stations in India were also raised for consultation.

Trai has requested written comments from stakeholders by January 20, 2023 and counter-comments by February 3, 2023.