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May, 27

Regulatory Sandbox in telecom could lead to risks: Airtel

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Airtel has opposed the telecom regulator’s proposal to introduce a regulatory sandbox (RS) as it may bring unforeseen challenges and associated risks including limited technical capacity and expertise.

According to Airtel, the idea of a sandbox is better for fintech sector where the use of technology and innovation is relatively nascent. 

“The Sandbox is used more ubiquitously in the financial sector than any other similarly regulated sector, mainly because of the aim of policymakers to increase financial inclusion through innovative solutions. In fact, globally, the fintech sector uses such Sandboxes to help understand the emerging trends and risks associated with the launch of new financial products and instruments. However, the usage of RS in the telecom sector, a sector different from the FinTech sector in terms of scale, technical and regulatory aspects, is not widespread at all. Only a few countries have established the RS framework in their telecom sector,” Airtel said in its submission to the TRAI.

Adverse outcomes 

The operators said that since RS is a very new concept in the Indian telecom sector, this may bring with it various unforeseen challenges and associated risks including limited technical capacity and expertise for operating the RS as well as the risk of competitive concerns in the market because of the waiver of certain regulations. “The risks could also lead to adverse outcomes for the customer. Therefore, it is very important that these risks are constantly monitored right from the initial stages of conceptualisation and operationalisation to the final stage of exiting the RS,” Airtel added. 

Airtel said there have also been successful alternatives that have helped enable the deployment of advanced technologies. 

The operators said RS is not critical considering that “we have other established alternatives such as innovative testbeds in the Centres of Excellence (CoE), trial environments, experimentation platforms etc. Institutions such as the Telecom Engineering Centre (TEC) through its working groups, work collaboratively with various entities in the technology development and standardisation domains. Similarly, the Government’s aim of establishing 100 5G testbeds will also turn out to be a more meaningful approach to test and trial technological solutions than an RS based one,” it added.





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