The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on Friday released a consultation paper to seek views from stakeholders on subjects such as telecom infrastructure sharing, spectrum sharing, and spectrum leasing. The consultation process from Trai follows the department of telecommunications (DoT) push for optimum utilisation of telecom resources among the licensees, which includes sharing of all kinds of telecom infrastructure and network elements among all categories of service providers, for authorized telecom services. Besides, telecom operators have also asked the government to permit inter-band spectrum sharing and leasing of spectrum so as to minimise their cost.
“The issues related to spectrum sharing and leasing of spectrum have also been taken up along with the issues relating to infrastructure sharing,” Trai said in a release. Currently, the telecom operators are only allowed to share active infrastructure such as antenna, feeder cable, radio access network, and transmission systems.
However, the telecom operators, through their representative the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has pushed for sharing of core network elements also such as Mobile Switching Center (MSC), Home Location Register (HLR), Intelligent Network (IN) etc among telecom operators.
According to COAI, the sharing of active infrastructure will avoid duplication of investment by the TSPs (telecom service providers), improve quality of service, incentivise companies to provide service in underserved areas, attract investment from the entities providing infrastructure funds, help TSPs to concentrate on their core business/competency, and accelerate roll out of digital service.
According to the ITU (International Telecommunication Union), passive infrastructure sharing can lead to the lowering of the telecom tariffs by 30%. In a 72-page consultation paper, the telecom regulator has sought views on issues such as whether the passive infrastructure sharing should be permitted or not, increasing the ambit of sharing of other active telecom infrastructure, need for amendment in telecom service licenses,sharing of resources funded from the government’s universal services obligation fund (USOF), and sharing and leasing of spectrum, among other things.The comments on the consultation paper can be submitted by February 10.