The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had sought TRAI’s opinion on a specific concern: whether Indian companies without a major stake in undersea cables, usually built by global high-power consortia, should be allowed to apply for permits acting alone. (For representation purposes only) | Photo credit: Velankanni Raj. B
The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) issued recommendations on June 20 on rules for undersea cables connecting Indian telecommunications networks to the global Internet.
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had sought input from TRAI on a specific concern: whether Indian companies without a major stake in undersea cables, usually built by global high-power consortia, should be allowed to seek clearances acting alone.
For this, TRAI recommended that all Indian telephone companies operating undersea cables should be required to provide proof that they own at least the part of the undersea cables which is in Indian waters. The telecoms regulator, however, broadened the scope of its response to the telecoms department, saying it had made more recommendations on related topics.suo motu‘.
For example, TRAI has suggested that a distinction be drawn between a cable landing station and the so-called “points of presence” to which the station is additionally connected. Owners of the latter type of facility would not have to apply for multiple authorizations, but would have to comply with legal requirements for interception.
The regulator also argued that ‘dark fiber’ should be allowed on existing cable landing stations and that ‘stubs’ (short cables in Indian waters for potential future expansion and use) should be allowed. Noting that submarine cable repair vessels are usually foreign vessels, TRAI also suggested that a government committee consider “different models of financial viability” for Indian-flagged vessels that would be contracted for the work.
TRAI further suggested that carrying domestic traffic over submarine cables – such as from Mumbai to Chennai – should be explicitly permitted in terms of licensing. Cable systems should be able to continue further inland via terrestrial networks, the regulator said, so that international traffic, which does not terminate in India, can pass through Indian lands, instead of bypassing the subcontinent.
Finally, the regulator suggested that submarine cables be notified as critical information infrastructure, and thus benefit from protection by the National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Center (NCIIPC).