TRAI Brings Consultation Paper on Telecom Infrastructure Providers

TRAI Brings Consultation Paper on Telecom Infrastructure Providers

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has started a consultation process to take a relook at the business scope of infrastructure providers in the country and encourage active infrastructure sharing at a time when telecom operators are battling shrinking revenue streams and looking at cost cutting measures.

The telecom regulator TRAI has suggested that infrastructure creation by standalone companies that do not directly compete with telecom operators needs to be promoted.

Currently passive infrastructure like ducts, towers, poles, equipment rooms can be created and shared by Infrastructure Providers Category-I (IP-I) & Telecom Operators, but the creation and sharing of active infrastructure such as antenna, feeder cable and radio access network is permitted to licensed telecom operators only.

Enhancing the scope of Infrastructure Providers (IP-I ) and allowing active infrastructure sharing may attract investments in this sector, create economy of scale and result in savings in capital, operating expenditure for operators.

Infrastructure Providers (IP-I ) are those infrastructure providers that provide assets such as dark fibre, right of way, duct space and tower on rental or sale basis to licensees of telecom services. They cannot own and share active infrastructure and only install this on behalf of the licensed telecom operators.

The regulator says that now infrastructure creation by standalone companies that do not directly compete with telecom operators needs to be promoted to boost telecom infrastructure and to reduce the cost of capital for operators. It will also help in attracting investments from entities providing infrastructure funds that are interested in long-term returns.

The Government of India is currently working on finalising the roadmap for roll-out of 5G services and wants to hold an auction this year itself. 5G will also require deployment of a large number of small cells which would mean more base transceivers stations as compared with existing networks.

The Telecom Authority (TRAI) said that the upgradation of the existing mobile networks to 5G and network densification requirements may create a greater incentive for fiberisation of the networks. Fiberisation of telecom networks by each licensee in non-sharing mode may be quite a costly proposition and would increase the cost of service delivery. Consequently, there might be a greater impetus for new models of infrastructure sharing and creation.

The regulator said a consultation paper on the review of scope of Infrastructure Providers Category-I (IP-I) registration has been floated. Comments can be submitted till 16 September & counter comments upto 30 September, 2019.

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