HindustanTimes Tue,23 Dec 2014

3G spectrum sharing: decision to be baptism by fire for NDA govt

M Rajendran, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, June 13, 2014
First Published: 00:12 IST(13/6/2014) | Last Updated: 00:17 IST(13/6/2014)

The Narendra Modi-led government is likely to take its first major policy decision in telecom soon, when the issue of spectrum sharing for 3G operators comes up at the next meeting of the Telecom Commission.

3G spectrum sharing in the 2,100 megahertz (Mhz) band is not allowed. The Department of Telecommunications has prepared a draft note to review the earlier decision taken in 2010 that restricted sharing.

If spectrum sharing is allowed, this would benefit operators including Vodafone, Airtel and others with more than 5 Mhz of 3G spectrum each in one circle, who can join hands and offer high-speed services.

It would also help them to take on RIL’s telecom venture, Reliance Jio, which is preparing a big bang entry into 4G services by year-end.

For over 40 million consumers, however, the decision will ensure a far more powerful data connectivity on their networks.

“There is another critical issue that has to be decided by Telecom Commission. In case sharing is allowed, both operators (with more than 4.4 Mhz of spectrum) have to pay an usage charge. However, the matter is sub-judice, so the two operators would be asked to give a bank guarantee as a one-time charge,” sources in the Telecom Commission said.

“We may refer it to the communications minister,” he added.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) meanwhile sent a letter on June 2, 2014, stating, “the authority suo-moto is working on a detailed guidelines for spectrum sharing… the authority is in the process of finalising the recommendations on these guidelines.”

“The decision to allow spectrum sharing can wait for the Trai’s recommendations, but it is not mandatory, if a policy decision is taken,” a DoT official said.

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