Relief for 3G players as DoT plans to allow spectrum sharing

Thomas K Thomas New Delhi | Updated on March 13, 2018 Published on June 05, 2014


Mobile operators like Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular set to gain

Changing its earlier stand, the Telecom Department plans to allow spectrum sharing, even among 3G players. The Department had earlier said it would exclude 3G airwaves in the proposed spectrum sharing policy.

The U-turn comes after a technical committee pointed out that since spectrum and licences have become technology agnostic, there is no point in banning a particular technology when it comes to sharing spectrum.

No restrictions

Under the new Unified Licence regime, an operator is allowed to deploy any technology in a given spectrum band as long as the company pays market-based price for the airwaves. Thus, an operator with 900 MHz spectrum, for instance, need not restrict itself to only 2G services and can offer 3G or 4G services on the same spectrum.

Earlier, the DoT had banned sharing of 3G spectrum on the grounds that it would jeopardise future auctions as telecom players could enter into sharing arrangements instead of buying it from the Government. DoT had used a similar logic to ban roaming agreements between 3G players.

However, a recent ruling by the Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal changed it all. The Tribunal lifted the ban on 3G roaming arrangements, stating that it would increase the gross revenue of the operators and that the Government, having a percentage share in the adjusted gross revenue of the licence holders, would be able to get a larger sum as licence fee.

The TDSAT ruling, coupled with the proposed 3G spectrum sharing law, will enable mobile operators, including Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular, to offer 3G services across the country. The DoT is expected to announce the final spectrum sharing policy after the Telecom Commission approves the proposed change. There are no other changes to the policy compared with the draft guidelines issued earlier.

If the revised policy is approved, operators such as Airtel, which now has 3G services in 13 circles, will be able to offer data services in the other nine circles as well, either through a roaming deal or spectrum sharing arrangement with players that have spectrum in these circles.

Published on June 05, 2014
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor