Call drops could soon reduce, with the Cabinet likely to approve the guidelines for spectrum sharing and trading on Wednesday. Operators may be required to pay a one-time fee for both, sources said.
While spectrum sharing will help telcos share unutilised spectrum with other service providers in the same circle, spectrum trading will allow them to trade unutilised spectrum. Spectrum trading can result in additional revenues for operators.
“It has been cleared by the Telecom Commission and the Cabinet will take it up. A few issues have been raised by the law ministry, which can thrashed out at the meeting,” a senior official in the communications ministry said.
While operators generally share passive infrastructure, including mobile towers, active infrastructure sharing such as spectrum is not allowed. Infrastructure sharing helps telcos reduce operational costs and enhance call connectivity.
Operators are currently allocated airwaves in various bands, including 800 megahertz (used for CDMA services), 900 Mhz, 1,800 Mhz, 2,100 Mhz (used for 3G services), 2,300 Mhz and 2,500 Mhz (used for 4G services).
The Economic Survey 2013-14 and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India have both recommended spectrum trading and sharing to bring down the cost of airwaves.
The move will also remove any possible hoarding of spectrum. At present, most service providers have spectrum allocated as bundled with their UAS licences. Some incumbent operators even hold spectrum beyond prescribed limits. The issue is likely to come up before the Cabinet on Wednesday.
Besides, the divestment of tower businesses of MTNL and BSNL will also be discussed.