In a move that will help mobile operators reduce their capital expenditure by 30-35%, the department of telecommunications has allowed them to do active infrastructure sharing, which means that apart from sharing towers (passive infrastructure sharing), which was allowed six to seven years ago, telcos can now share even the electronic infrastructure required for communication networks. For instance, now two operators can share a single mobile switching centre. Operators will also be able to reduce their operating expenditure by around 5%. Analysts said that the savings on opex comes to be lower as passive sharing is already allowed and already leads to considerable savings.
Active infrastructure sharing also operationalises spectrum sharing, which was allowed by the government in September last year. Officials said that without allowing for active infrastructure sharing by way of amendment in the unified licence agreement, any spectrum sharing agreement between operators could not be made functional.
As such Reliance Jio Infocomm, which has signed a spectrum sharing agreement with Reliance Communications across 16 circles, will be the biggest beneficiary of the move as it plans to commercially roll out services by March-April. However, even other operators who do not enter into spectrum sharing agreements will benefit as they can share the existing networks of an operator as they roll out new services and expand into newer areas.
“Sharing of active infrastructure amongst service providers based on mutual agreements entered amongst them is permitted. Active infrastructure sharing will be limited to antennae, feeder cable, Node B, radio access network and transmission system,” a notification issued by the DoT amending the unified licence agreement stated.
Apart from mobile operators, even tower firms like Indus Tower, Bharti Infratel, Viom Network, etc, will benefit as it will open another revenue stream for them.
Active infrastructure sharing has been long pending demand of the telecom industry, which the DoT has now accepted.