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TRAI reiterates the need for mandating IBS sharing between operators and tower cos

March 12, 2018

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has reiterated to the government that operators and tower companies should be mandated to share in-building solutions (IBS) inside residential, commercial complexes and large public places such as malls, hotels and airports, to pre-empt any exclusive contracts, boost quality of indoor mobile coverage and minimise call drops.

Earlier, in January 2017, TRAI had recommended that IBS infrastructure sharing be made mandatory for telecom operators and tower firms in large public places and residential/commercial complexes to boost overall quality of indoor mobile coverage. The Department of Telecommunications (DoT), in a back reference, dated November 22, 2017, had asked the TRAI to reconsider its call for IBS sharing between telecom operators and tower firms, stating that such a move could give rise to litigations, especially since the present licensing framework does not envisage micro-managing the affairs of operators and tower operators with landlords and right of way (RoW) providers.

The regulator in response to DoT’s back-reference has reiterated its earlier recommendation that telecom service providers/tower operators be mandated to share in-building infrastructure to thwart the intent of any operator to maintain exclusivity of its IBS resources. It has urged DoT to insert a suitable clause in the terms and conditions of an operator’s licence agreement and a tower operator’s registration certificate to bar them from entering into any kind of agreement or contract that results in exclusive access or lessening of competition.The objective behind its recommendations is to ensure that operators and tower firms get access to buildings under fair and transparent terms to improve the deployment of high-speed telecom networks. It highlighted that such a scenario would also enable telecom players to arrest call drops inside buildings, malls and other such areas.

In its response to DoT’s letter, TRAI stated that IBS has become as vital to buildings as water or electricity since an estimated 80 per cent of present mobile traffic originates or terminates within a building. However, the regulator clarified that it does not envisage regulating or micro-managing agreements entered into by operators/tower firms with building owners, but has suggested that operators and tower firms be disallowed to enter into contracts resulting in exclusive access or reduction of competition.

 

 
 

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