Sector watchdog the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has published its recommendations on ‘In-Building Access by Telecom Service Providers (TSPs)’, identifying what it deems ‘restrictive practices’ by building owners and suggesting potential remedies for the situation. According to the regulator, many building owners enter into agreements with infrastructure providers or TSPs, under which a single operator is granted exclusive access to the property, preventing other providers from offering telecoms services to the building’s residents. The practice, the TRAI notes, reduces competition and eliminates consumers’ rights to select a service provider that suits their needs. To that end, the TRAI has suggested outlawing the exclusive contracts, obliging operators to share in-building infrastructure, and modifying construction guidelines to ensure that the necessary infrastructure is in place.
The TRAI’s six recommendations on the matter are as follows:
1. TSPs and infrastructure providers be mandated to share in-building infrastructure in public places and commercial and residential complexes with other providers in a transparent, fair and non-discriminatory manner
2. Entering into exclusive contracts prohibiting access to other TSPs may be treated as violation of the licence agreement
3. Suitable provisions for the creation of Common Telecom Infrastructure (CTI) inside the building should form part of Model Building Bye-Laws
4. The National Building Code of India (NBC) should be amended by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) to include essential telecom installations and associated cabling
5. A completion certificate for a building should only be granted after ensuring that the CTI is in place and meets prescribed standards
6. Access to buildings, including CTI facilities, should be made available to TSPs on a fair, transparent and non-discriminatory basis, with a minimum of three operators having a presence in the building.