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Indian regulator recommends declaring subsea and CLS infra as critical servicesIndian regulator recommends declaring subsea and CLS infra as critical services

Indian telecommunications regulator issued a slew of recommendations to boost submarine and CLS systems in the country.

Gagandeep Kaur

June 21, 2023

2 Min Read
Indian regulator recommends declaring subsea and CLS infra as critical services
TRAI recommendations aim to help India satisfy growing need for subsea cable connections.(Source: Sybille Reuter / Alamy Stock Photo)

India should treat its Cable Landing Stations (CLSs) and submarine cables operation as critical and essential services, according to recommendations made by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in the consultation paper "Licensing Framework and Regulatory Mechanism for Submarine Cable Landing in India."

"The Authority recommends that, given the importance of SMC [submarine cable] systems for connectivity as well as security of the country, CLS operations along with its associated activities such as layout, maintenance and repairs of Submarine Cables should be accorded 'Essential Services' status," the document states.

India hosts around 17 submarine cables from different parts of the world, which then connect to the terrestrial network to cater to the ever-growing demand for capacity in the country, with Mumbai and Chennai being the two major locations for CLSs in India. However, as demand for capacity continues to rise unabated, there is a need for India to bring more submarine cables online. Further, as the digital economy grows, the government believes that the country must develop more CLS locations to ensure route diversification. TRAI issued a consultation paper earlier this year to address these issues and to facilitate growth of the subsea cable ecosystem.

In line with the growing importance of subsea cables, TRAI has also recommended that the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) should include a section on subsea cables and CLS in the 2022 Indian telecommunication bill to "promote, protect and prioritize" CLS and the submarine cable network in the country.

Waiving charges

Further, TRAI also recommends revising the ILD/ISP-A (International Long Distance/Internet Service Provider – Category A) license terms to also include two categories of CLS locations: the main facility and the Point of Presence (PoP).

"The Owner of the Main CLS would seek all the permissions/clearances related to the submarine cable landing in their CLS in India while the owners of CLS-PoPs will not be required to seek such permissions/clearances. However, owner of CLS-PoPs will be required to fulfil all security and regulatory/license obligation including establishment of LIM facility. They will also be required to inform Licensor/TRAI about all CLS-PoP locations and their owners," says the press release issued by the government.

Other noteworthy recommendations include waiving the right of way charges for laying and maintaining optical fiber infrastructure to CLS for "encouraging and supporting the new CLS establishment for submarine cables." TRAI has also said repair and maintenance work on submarine cables should be exempt from the customs duty and the goods and services tax on items required for CLS and submarine operation and maintenance.

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— Gagandeep Kaur, Contributing Editor, special to Light Reading

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About the Author(s)

Gagandeep Kaur

Contributing Editor

With more than a decade of experience, Gagandeep Kaur Sodhi has worked for the most prominent Indian communications industry publications including Dataquest, Business Standard, The Times of India, and Voice&Data, as well as for Light Reading. Delhi-based Kaur, who has knowledge of and covers a broad range of telecom industry developments, regularly interacts with the senior management of companies in India's telecom sector and has been directly responsible for delegate and speaker acquisition for prominent events such as Mobile Broadband Summit, 4G World India, and Next Generation Packet Transport Network.

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