Coming soon: Spectrum sharing in India

Posted on April 16, 2013  /  0 Comments

Last week The Hindu, in its editorial, has urged for a secondary market in spectrum trading.

Having minimum download speeds of 2 Mbps, as opposed to the current standards of 256 Kbps, is contingent upon operators having access to adequate spectrum. Mobile companies in the US or Japan typically have 30-40 MHz of spectrum, compared with the 5 MHz or so available with Indian operators. With an active secondary market, operators can plan their capital investments through an optimal mix of airwaves between what they may want to ‘own’ and what could be ‘bought’ out. Such assessment can, moreover, be made on a continuous basis, unlike now where capacity creation is a function of official decisions on spectrum auctions.

India’s Department of Telecommunication (DoT) appears to have decided to allow the sharing of spectrum among the mobile companies. The aspirants will have to obtain regulatory approval for five years in exchange of paying fees for the shared spectrum, including the one-off fee for holding excess spectrum, according to a report of Live Mint.

“The operators will have to go back to the drawing board and decide whether there is a business case for sharing spectrum after paying the one-time fee and the combined spectrum usage charge,” said Ashok Sud, secretary general at the Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India, an industry body that represents the interests of companies such as Reliance Communications Ltd and Tata Teleservices Ltd.

“The devil is in the details, and unless you know what the department of telecomunications (DoT) expects in the commercial agreements between the operators, it’s difficult to say anything. It’s a very good move as the operators will be allowed to trunk spectrum, which significantly increases the efficiency,” he said.

Sharing of spectrum broadly means the operators can offer much better QoS. Sindhu Bhattacharya, has, however, raised four specific questions to DoT in this regard.

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