DCC likely to clear active infra sharing

DCC likely to clear active infra sharing

In what seems to be a big policy move that will bring in large investments in telecom networks, the next meeting of the apex body of the telecom sector, Digital Communications Commission (DCC), is likely to clear the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) recommendations on broadening the telecom infrastructure’s scope or tower service providers.

If the recommendations are approved, infrastructure sharing will be allowed between telecom companies, infrastructure companies and Internet Service Providers (ISPs), enhancing cost-savings and fostering competition in the segment.

It will open the entire sector for further investment. Indus Tower, Brookfield, ATC, Tower Vision and internet services providers like Den networks and Hathaway could be among the beneficiaries of these recommendations.

TRAI had suo-motu initiated a consultation process to review the Enhancement of Scope of Infrastructure Providers Category-I (IP-I) registration in 2019. It had recommended that the telecom infrastructure providers be allowed to engage in partial active infrastructure sharing. TRAI had shared its recommendations with the Department of Telecom (DoT) in March 2020.

However, a DoT committee did not agree with certain recommendations of TRAI. There has been a debate between DoT and TRAI on registration versus licence. In November 2020, TRAI was asked to provide further clarification by the DCC. However, in a letter sent to DoT on January 11, TRAI reiterated its stand on its recommendations.

Enhancement of the scope of IPS-1 would help telecom companies to actively share networks such as antenna, base stations, feeder cable, transmission systems, radio access network, and optical fibre cable.

This will also help companies share Wi-Fi access points, In-Building Solutions, leased-lines, dark fibre, transmission bandwidth to non-licensed service providers such as cloud service providers, internet exchanges, and data centres.

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