| TRAI proposes sharing of entire telecom infrastructure networknews
|11 April 2007
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI)
has proposed the sharing of passive, active and back
haul networks in the country for faster rollouts of
networks in urban and rural areas, and at lower cost.
Considering the exponential growth in wireless telecom
services and the requirement of vast infrastructure
for mobile telephony in the country, TRAI said, massive
investment requirements can be reduced by sharing
infrastructure - passive, active and back haul components.
Apart from huge investments needed to build fresh
infrastructure the time taken to roll out could be
a major bottleneck in the achievement of 500 million
subscribers by 2010, TRAI said.
The country would require about 3.3 lakh towers by
2010 against the present one lakh towers. Even if
the target is achieved, it will only be about 50 per
cent of the tele-density with major gaps in the rural
areas, TRAI said in its proposals to Department of
TRAI has sought amendment in the licence condition
to allow active infrastructure sharing limited to
antenna, feeder cable, node B, radio access network
and transmission systems. However, the authority has
not favoured sharing of spectrum at this stage.
"Considering the importance of back haul sharing
for mobile services in rural and far flung areas,
licensing conditions should be amended to allow operators
to share their back haul in a limited way on optical
fibre. No sharing of spectrum at access network side
is permitted", it said.
Sharing of active infrastructure is currently not
permitted under the licencing agreement. TRAI also
has not favoured any policy intervention for this.
Passive infrastructure sharing means sharing of physical
sites, buildings, shelters, towers, power supply and
battery backup and is permitted under the licences.
TRAI took into consideration the prevailing international
practices and has opted for co-operative efforts amongst
telecom service providers with least regulatory intervention.
The authority has made it clear that it does not prefer
any mandated passive infrastructure sharing but has
required that the entire process should be transparent
and non-discriminatory. The licensees should be required
to announce on their website the details of existing
as well as future infrastructure installations available
for sharing by the other service providers.
The mode of commercial agreement has been left to
the telecom service providers but it has reserved
the option of prescribing a standard commercial agreement
format in future if the process of infrastructure
sharing does not become a pattern of planning in the
schemes of telecom service providers. It seeks conclusion
of commercial agreements in four weeks'' time.
In a major recommendation, the TRAI has recognised
the need for immediate identification of critical
infrastructure sites. It has recommended a joint working
group under the chairmanship of the district magistrate
to take spot decisions. The representatives of the
telecom service providers, municipal corporation/local
bodies and a representative of military land control
wing, where necessary, would be its members.
order to provide level-playing field and rollout opportunities
to all the licensees, the authority has expanded the
scope of financial incentive for passive infrastructure
sharing in rural and far-flung remote areas. Accordingly,
it has recommended that all the licensees in any service
areas should qualify for financial subvention schemes
meant for rural areas though at reduced scale compared
to the winner in the tender process of USOF administration.
TRAI has also recognised the need to encourage use
of non-conventional energy sources and has recommended
to the DoT to finalise suitable schemes in consultation
with the concerned ministry so as to resolve the critical
power availability issue.