Following the Indian government’s approval of spectrum sharing rules earlier this week, Reliance Communications (RCOM) and Reliance Jio Infocomm (RJIL) are set to ink an agreement to share 800MHz spectrum in ten circles, whilst Videocon Telecommunications is in talks to share airwaves in Madhya Pradesh and Haryana. The Economic Times cites a person familiar with the matter as saying that the agreement between RCOM and RJIL will allow the duo to share 800MHz spectrum in the ten circles where the latter holds frequencies in that band, namely: Mumbai, Uttar Pradesh East, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Assam, North East, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir. Under the terms of the sharing rules, operators can only share spectrum within the same circle and spectrum band. According to the source, RCOM has also applied to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) for permission to liberalise its older spectrum holdings in the 800MHz band by paying the government the market price for the airwaves, which were allocated without auction. If the DoT refuses the request, however, the pair will only be allowed to share spectrum purchased in recent auctions, limiting them to Assam, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, J&K, North East and Orissa.
Videocon, meanwhile, is involved in talks with a potential partner operator in the two circles to build capacity for offering 4G data and 2G voice services. Videocon CEO Arvind Bali was quoted as saying: ‘Our plan is to either pool our spectrum with [a] partner operator and allocate 5MHz for 4G data and 5MHz for 2G voice, or upgrade our network to 4G and shift 2G voice on [to the spectrum of] one of the existing player[s]. So, this way we and the partner operator will be able to offer both 4G and 2G services on each other’s networks.’ Mr Bali went on: ‘We have always [wanted] to roll out 4G services, but the limitation we’ve had was non-availability of adequate specrum to accommodate both basic 2G voice and 4G. We could either offer 3G voice or 4G data on the available spectrum, and obviously basic voice takes the priority.’ The official added that the new system for spectrum sharing was ‘well defined and designed’ and will help operators improve quality of service (QoS) and reduce call drops.