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TRAI supports active and passive infrastructure sharing

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In Short:

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has recommended sharing of active and passive infrastructure among telecom service providers to optimize resource utilization. They also recommended inter-band spectrum sharing, spectrum trading and leasing, and conditions for spectrum sharing. Trai suggested allowing access to globally harmonized spectrum bands for service providers. The recommendations need approval from the Digital Communications Commission. Operators are required to pay a sharing fee for spectrum sharing.

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Recommends Infrastructure Sharing Among Telecom Service Providers

New Delhi: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has recommended the use of active and passive infrastructure sharing among telecom service licensees to promote optimal resource utilization.

Recommendations by Trai

The regulator has recommended inter-band spectrum sharing between service providers in a licensed service area (LSA) and exploring the possibility of allowing access to globally harmonized spectrum bands assigned to government agencies through authorized shared access (ASA) technique-based spectrum sharing.

Additionally, Trai has recommended conditions for spectrum sharing, trading, and leasing under the new Telecommunications Act, 2023.

Infrastructure Sharing

Sharing of active infrastructure is no longer limited to specific elements but now includes all active infrastructure elements, including core network elements owned, established, and operated by telecom service providers (TSPs), with all types of telecom service licensees.

Operators can already share passive infrastructure elements such as building, tower, electrical equipment, dark fiber, duct space, and right of way.

Approval Process

The recommendations by Trai will need to be approved by the Digital Communications Commission (DCC), the highest decision-making body of the Department of Telecommunications.

In current and future projects of the ministry’s universal service obligation fund (USOF), universal service providers are obligated to share passive infrastructure with at least two other carriers.

Spectrum Sharing

Trai has recommended inter-band access spectrum sharing between telcos in a service area, allowing leasing of up to 50% of spectrum holding acquired through auction or trading. Telcos sharing spectrum will need to pay a non-refundable sharing fee based on the market price of the frequency shared.

Inter-band spectrum sharing is permitted in various frequency bands, and operators are not allowed to enter into inter-band access spectrum sharing with more than one operator in a spectrum band category in a circle.

Furthermore, sharing of any frequency should be permitted only after a lock-in period of two years from the date of acquisition through auction or trading, and the amount received by operators under the sharing agreement will contribute to their adjusted gross revenue (AGR) for levying license fees and spectrum usage charges.

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