The Telecommunication Bill, 2023 passed by both the houses in the recently concluded Winter Parliament Session has received the assent of the President, and has been now enacted into law.

The Act is set to repeal 138 year-old archaic laws for the telecommunication sector, primarily the Indian Telegraph Act, of 1885, the Wireless Telegraphy Act (1933), and the Telegraph Wires (Unlawful Possession) Act (1950).

Passed amidst the chaos ahead of the suspension of more than two-third Members of Parliament (MPs) of opposition, the Act aims at making the sector investor-friendly, grant protection to users, and extend the of powers of the government to intercept communications.

As per the new laws, telecommunication may be intercepted on certain grounds inter alia the security of the state, public order, or prevention of offences. Further, the telecom services may be suspended temporarily on similar grounds as well.

The key feature of the new Act is that it provides privacy to the customers/users by giving them an option requiring their prior consent to receive messages from potential sellers.

The Act also provides a non-auction route for the allocation of satellite spectrum. As per Section 4 of the Act, “The Central Government, being the owner of the spectrum on behalf of the people, shall assign the spectrum in accordance with this Act, and may notify a National Frequency Allocation Plan from time to time”.

Further to prevent incitement for committing offence, the government can now stop transmission and intercepting messages in case of a public emergency.

Moreover, the Act also does not mention about OTT (over-the-top) platforms.

As per Section 24(1) of the Act, the Universal Service Obligation Fund under the old Act, will be the “Digital Bharat Nidhi” which shall first be credited to the Consolidated Fund of India, and the Central Government may, if Parliament by appropriation made by law in this behalf so provides, credit such proceeds to the Digital Bharat Nidhi from time to time for being utilised exclusively to meet the objectives. “The Universal Service Obligation Fund created under the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, shall, from the appointed day, be the "Digital Bharat Nidhi", under the control of the Central Government, and shall be used to discharge functions as set forth in this Act”, the Act reads.

Additionally, the President of India has also assented to the Post Office Act, 2023 which is set to replace the Indian Post Office Act, 1898 to make it more citizen-centric. The purpose is to ensure effective functioning of the Postal Department and its services.

Read/download the Act-The Telecommunications Act, 2023

Read/download the Act-The Post Office Act, 1898