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India proposes spectrum sharing rules

India has finally proposed spectrum sharing

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has finally released much-awaited guidelines on the sharing of radio frequencies in all bands, allowing carriers to make optimal use of spectrum.

To date, operators have only been allowed to share physical infrastructure like cell towers to bring costs down but not the spectrum resources themselves. Now new recommendations mean that a maximum of two operators that both hold a swathe of spectrum in the same band, can pool their resources.

“Spectrum in the bands of 800/900/1,800/2,100/2,300/2,500 MHz will be sharable provided both the licensees are having spectrum in the same band,” Trai said. The authority also recommended a minor 0.5 per cent increase in the spectrum usage charge (SUC) fee due to the enhanced airwave holdings. The proposals apply to both 2G and 3G technologies.

Permission for spectrum sharing will be given initially for a period of five years and in respect of spectrum obtained through auction, spectrum sharing will be permitted only if the auction conditions provide for the same. Moreover, both the parties are required to fulfil their individual roll-out obligations as well as the Quality of Service (QoS) obligations prescribed under the licence.

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“The basic objective of spectrum sharing is to provide an opportunity to the TSPs to pool their spectrum holdings and thereby improve spectral efficiency. Sharing can also provide additional network capacities in places where there is network congestion due to a spectrum crunch,” the TRAI said.

Ultimately, the move could bring prices down for consumers as operators will be less motivated to bid aggressively in upcoming spectrum auctions.

 


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