TRAI recommends network infrastructure sharing

The Department of Telecommunication had sought recommendations from TRAI on effective sharing of passive infrastructure (towers etc.). The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) says that it is supporting plans to allow network infrastructure sharing in India. Given the significance of infrastructure sharing the Authority says that it not only considered the issue of passive infrastructure sharing but has given the recommendation regarding active infrastructure sharing and backhaul on a suo-motu basis.

TRAI says that the country would require approximately 330,000 towers by 2010 against the present number of approximately 100,000 towers. Apart from huge investments needed the time taken in roll out could be a major bottleneck in the achievement of 500 million subscribers by 2010. 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.
In its recommendation, the Authority has reiterated the urgency of passive infrastructure sharing. The Authority does not prefer any mandated passive infrastructure sharing but has required that the entire process should be transparent and non-discriminatory. 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.
In another major recommendation the Authority has sought amendment in the license 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.
Another major initiative is backhaul sharing. Considering the importance of backhaul sharing for mobile services in rural and far-flung areas, the Authority has recommended amendment in the license conditions to allow service providers to share their backhaul from Base Trans Receiver Station (BTS) to Base Station Controller (BSC). It has noted that such a sharing is permitted on optical fibre as well as radio medium at certain 'nodes'. However, no sharing of spectrum at Access Network side has been recommended.
In order to provide level playing field and roll out 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. The Authority 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.

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