The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has recommended that telecom companies may be allowed to share all spectrum both auctioned and allocated to them for providing mobile services.
Allowing sharing of all categories of airwaves held by operators, including spectrum allocated at the old price of Rs1,658 crore or assigned without auction could help companies significantly reduce the cost of mobile services, telecom regulator Trai said today.
The telecom department has so far allocated spectrum to telecom operators in various frequencies of 800 megahertz (CDMA), 900 MHz, 1,800 MHz, 2,100 MHz (3G), 2,300 MHz and 2,500 MHz (4G) for wireless telecom services.
"All access spectrum, ie, spectrum in the bands of 800/900/1800/2100/ 2300/2500 MHz will be sharable provided that both the licensees are having spectrum in the same band," Trai said in its recommendation on guidelines on spectrum sharing.
At present, network operators are allowed to make deals over sharing of passive, but not active infrastructure.
The telecom regulator's recommendations provides for sharing of all spectrum by mobile service providers on the lines of other infrastructure like mobile towers.
Since the department of telecom started auctioning airwaves to the highest bidder there is no great loss to the government in allowing telecom companies to share airwaves. On the other hand, sharing would help more efficient use of scarce spectrum.
Under the old licensing process, spectrum was allotted and not auctioned off to telecom companies, which resulted in huge losses to the exchequer and sharing of air waves was allowed only under the condition that they paid a one-time fee.
This one-time charge was calculated at Rs30,000 crore for CDMA and GSM.
The price of spectrum in the last auction was about five times higher than the price of spectrum allocated under the old licensing regime. The new regime was notified in August 2013 by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).
"If any one or both of the licensees, sharing their spectrum, have administratively assigned spectrum (allocated without auction) in that band, then, after sharing, they will be permitted to provide only those services which can be provided through the administratively held spectrum," Trai recommended.