Spectrum-sharing norms cleared

Mobile telephone consumers can hope for a solution to the call-drop problems with the Centre on Wednesday approving guidelines for sharing of spectrum.

The approval was given by the Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The decision is expected to ease congestion in mobile network and reduce call drops as mobile telecom firms can share their unused spectrum, thereby enhancing network quality and reducing operational costs.

However, neither did the Cabinet allow leasing of spectrum, nor it took any decision on spectrum trading norms, a prerequisite for consolidation in the sector.

"Fulfilling the government's commitment to improve spectral efficiency and quality of service, the Union Cabinet gave its approval to the guidelines on spectrum sharing,” an official release said.

Spectrum sharing would be allowed only where both the licensees are having spectrum in the same band and leasing of spectrum will not be permitted, it said.

Also, sharing may be permitted where both entities possess spectrum for which the market price has been paid.

Spectrum usage charge (SUC) will be levied on the entire spectrum holding in the particular band and all access spectrum including traded spectrum will be shareable.

At present, telecom operators are allowed to share passive infrastructure like mobile towers only.

The official release said SUC rate of each of the licensees post-sharing shall increase by 0.5 per cent of Aggregate Gross Revenue.

However, in respect of spectrum in 800 MHz (CDMA) acquired in the auction held in March 2013, sharing of spectrum shall be permitted only if differential of latest auction price and March 2013 auction price on pro-rata basis on the balance period of right to use the spectrum, is paid.

Sharing may be permitted where both sharing entities are having administratively allotted spectrum and where one entity has spectrum acquired through auction or liberalised spectrum and the other has spectrum allotted administratively, sharing shall be permitted only after spectrum charges are paid for liberalising the administratively allocated spectrum.

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