In order to ensure that subscribers are not put to undue hardships due to closure of access services, the Authority, suo-motu, decided to initiate a consultation process on the issue. Accordingly, a Consultation Paper on "Issues related to closure of Access Services" was released on 30 November 2016 seeking the comments of the stakeholders. An Open House Discussion (OHD) on the issue was convened on 28 April 2017 in New Delhi.
Based on the comments received and further analysis, Recommendations on 'Issues related to closure of Access Services' have been issued and the same have also been placed on TRAI's website.
Some of the main recommendations are:
a) A Unified Access Service (UAS) licensee should be permitted to discontinue any of the services, permitted under the scope of licence without the need to surrender the licence.
b) If a UAS licensee decides to close down its wireless access services, which were being provided through the administratively assigned spectrum, it must surrender such spectrum immediately upon closure of wireless access services.
c) In case of closure of access services through any technology in the entire service area or a part of it, the TSP should be mandated to give a 60 days notice to the Licensor and TRAI and 30 days notice to its effected subscribers, clearly stating the options available to the subscribers, including that of MNP facility.
d) The Authority has recommended various time-lines to be followed by DoT/WPC and the Licensee in the spectrum trading process. These timelines will bring greater clarity and certainty in the entire process of spectrum trading. If the entire spectrum in all bands is being sold by a licensee, which will result in discontinuation of services, recommended timelines will remove uncertainties and facilitate the TSPs to given 60 days notice to DoT/TRAI and 30 days notice to its subscribers.
e) If a subscriber wants to switch from one technology to other, within the same TSP, the same should not come under the definition Mobile Number Portability.
Rajan Mathews, director general of Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), commented: “We believe that the recommendations on the whole and particularly in the case of the entire spectrum being sold and the licensee planning to exit business, will provide more clarity, and also facilitate spectrum trading within clear timelines. This will ease the process of closure of access services.”