Telecom companies have submitted differing views in response to a consultation paper released by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), titled “Introduction of Digital Con­nectivity Infrastructure Provider (DCIP) Authorisation under Unified Li­cence (UL)”. While Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel are against the proposal of providing separate authorisation to DCIPs under the UL, Vodafone Idea Limited (Vi) has argued in favour of the same.

In the comments submitted to TRAI, Jio and Airtel said that the new authorisation could lead to challenges in the management of crucial network elements and investments in new technologies. Airtel is of the view that there is no justification for creating a new category under the UL for purposes of the DCIP. The telco believes that there can be no incremental benefit expected from the move. It said that having separate authorisation for DCIPs could also lead to increased dependence of telcos on the infrastructure providers, which could lead to network failures. Airtel reiterated that in the event that the proposed DCIP authorisation is introduced and the existing telcos become dependent on DCIPs for their networks, the services of telcos will become vulnerable to failure if there is a setback to the network of even one DCIP.

Meanwhile, Jio said that DCIPs are critical to realising ambitions such as smart cities. It would be aided by reducing the regulatory burden on these entities rather than increasing the same by bringing these entities under the UL regime. It added that TRAI should revert its focus back on passive infrastructure creation and continue with its policy proclamation that the IP-1 will not be encumbered with any additional regulatory oversight. Jio stated that it is important that sufficient steps are taken to ensure that this service provider does not become a single point of failure for networks and affects quality of service of millions of subscribers belonging to different sets of service providers at one go. 

On the other hand, Vi argued that the move would promote sharing of infrastructure in a fair, transparent and non-discriminatory manner. The telcos said that infrastructure creation by standalone companies needs to be promoted through such DCIP authorisation under the UL to reduce cost of capital for service providers.