Telecom Commission approves 2G spectrum sharing only

31 Jan 2012

India’s Telecom Commission, the apex decision-making body of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), has reportedly decide to allow the country’s mobile network operators to share spectrum, although it has said that such arrangements should be limited to 2G spectrum only. According to India’s Economic Times, the regulatory body has also chosen to attach a number of riders to govern any spectrum sharing agreements that are struck between operators. Notably, only those cellcos that both have frequencies in any particular circle will be permitted to share their spectrum. The report cites the minutes of the Commission’s meeting on the matter as saying: ‘Spectrum can be shared only between two spectrum holders…In other words, a non-licensee or licensee who has not been assigned spectrum as yet cannot be party to spectrum trading.’ Further, it is understood that two operators may only share their respective spectrum if their combined holdings do not exceed limits prescribed in the country’s mergers and acquisitions norms; the Commission recently approved a recommendation by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) that allows any combined entity to have up to 25% of the total spectrum in a circle. Any spectrum sharing deals that are struck meanwhile will have to be renewed every five years, while both companies will be required to pay usage charges on the total airwaves held jointly.