Telecom reforms: India makes it easier to get new mobile connections

telecom reforms India KYC
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India has taken the first steps to initiate reforms in the country’s telecom market by simplifying the know your customer (KYC) processes to get new mobile connections. The move will help customers get new connections quickly and promote “ease of doing business” for telecom operators.

India now allows getting a new connection through Aadhaar based e-KYC, self-KYC and OTP based conversion of mobile connections from prepaid to postpaid.

Under the reforms, Aadhaar based e-KYC process has been re-introduced for issuing of new mobile connections. India’s Supreme Court discontinued digital verification via Aadhaar in 2018.

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) issues Aadhaar on behalf of the Government of India. The UIDAI will charge telecom operators Rs 1 per customer authentication.

“This is a complete paperless and digital process wherein the demographic details along with a picture of the customer is received online by the Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) from the UIDAI,” the government said.

It also mentioned that customer consent had been made compulsory in case the Aadhaar is being used and demographic details are being obtained electronically from UIDAI.

In the new self-KYC process, issuing a new mobile connection is now allowed through apps or portal-based online processes, providing customers with the flexibility to apply for a mobile connection from home or office and get doorstep delivery of SIM. At the same time, the documents are electronically verified by the UIDAI or DigiLocker.

Implementing an OTP-based conversion process enables subscribers to convert a mobile connection from Prepaid to Postpaid and vice-versa, sitting at their home/office via OTP-based authentication. 

Currently, a subscriber has to undergo the KYC process, which entails a visit to the Point of Sale along with the original documents of identity and address as proof for obtaining a new mobile connection or conversion of mobile connection from prepaid to postpaid or vice-versa.

The government said that online service delivery had become an acceptable norm in the recent past. Most customer services are being offered through the internet with OTP authentication. “Contactless services in the COVID era need to be promoted for subscriber convenience and also for ease of doing business,” it added.

India’s Minister of Communications,  Ashwini Vaishnaw, said telecom reforms aim to provide world-class internet and tele connectivity for the marginalised section. “In a major step towards achieving this objective, the Department of Telecommunications, Ministry of Communications, Government of India, today issued a series of orders simplifying the KYC processes and thereby initiating the telecom reforms announced by the Cabinet on 15.09.2021.”

Indian telecom operators like Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea Wednesday said that the move would boost the telecom sector, which is the backbone of the Indian economy.

S.P. Kochhar, Director-General, COAI, said that the new KYC norms and other measures would help telecom service providers meet their liquidity requirements and invest in the telecom infrastructure for the onset of 5G technology to benefit the end consumers. “We are looking forward to more such announcements corroborating the relief package & soon we will adhere to the processes.”

“These announcements will further lead to a much more robust and healthier telecom sector which in turn will spur innovation and investments in allied industries,” Kochhar said.

The COAI or Cellular Operators Association of India represents private telecom operators in the country.

The Indian government first announced these new measures as part of the “structural” and “process” reforms on September 15. The measures also include a 4-year moratorium on payment of statutory dues by telecom companies and 100% FDI through the automatic route.

This also coincides with the appointment of K. Rajaraman as the new secretary of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), replacing Anshu Prakash. Prakasg will retire on September 30, 2021.

Rajaraman, a Tamil Nadu cadre 1989-batch Indian Administrative Services (IAS), is currently working as an additional secretary in the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA).

Related article: India aims to attract new players to telecom sector via “structural” reforms

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