Low Power Small Range Broadcasting in India Allowed in FM and Digital, Too

On September 21st,the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has released its recommendations on “Issues related to Low Power Small Range FM Radio Broadcasting’.

This followed a request issued last year by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) on the need and timing for introduction of new services such as in drive-in theatres and other use cases of low power small range FM radio broadcasting like hospital radio services, amusement parks, business premises, closed communities such as residential complexes, small habitations, commentary for local events such as air shows and sports events. Low power refers to 1 watt and 500 metres coverage. The recommendations refer mainly to the use of FM for such narrow-coverage services, though “License/Registration/Authorization holders for low power small range FM broadcasting should be allowed to deploy any type of transmission technologies (analogue/digital / any other)”. No specific digital standard is mentioned though.

One of the 6 consultation comments requested by TRAI was sent by the DRM Consortium (the gist of the submission is summarised in drm.org – Small Coverage Pop-up Stations In India Through The Use Of DRM).

The main features of the recommendations are now:

A. Introduction of a new category of service provider called ‘Low Power Small Range FM Radio Broadcasting’ for provision of low power small range FM Radio.
B. License/registration/authorization to be granted through a simple registration process via an online application portal.
C. Approval by Telecom Engineering Centre (TEC) for transmitting equipment for low power small range FM broadcasting.
D. Eligible entities to hold license registration authorization for ‘Low Power Small Range FM Broadcasting’ are individuals, companies registered under the Companies Act 2013 including LLP and partnership firms. But not political parties, companies with political or religious affiliation or control should be allowed to sue this form of low-power broadcasting.

The permission to operate is between 30 days and five years without any entry levy but requiring some authorization fees depending on the length of the authorisation period (between 1,000 and 10,000 rupees per year). This should be granted online by the Wireless Planning and Coordination (WPC) wing of the Ministry of Communication through online portal within two days of submitting the application.



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