The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has suggested the creation of a separate authorisation for access network provider to offer network services on a wholesale basis. Under the new authorisation, the access network provider would not be permitted to directly provide services to the end customers.
The suggestion comes as TRAI spelt out its views on unbundling of various layers through differential licensing.
The recommendations by the regulator is focused on creating a separate licence authorisation for access network provider and moot a broad framework for virtual network operators (VNOs) seeking and entering into an pacts with the network providers. According to TRAI, the implementation of these recommendations is expected to result in increased sharing of network resources, reduction of cost, investment, and strengthening of the service delivery, and could also prove to be catalyst in proliferation of 5G services.
The scope of the access network provider would be to establish and maintain telecom network and selling the network services on a wholesale basis to VNOs for retailing purpose. The access network provider should also be permitted to provide/share its network resources to/with the telecom service providers who are licensees and vice versa. Like unified licensee with access authorisation, the access network provider should also be permitted to acquire spectrum through auctions, subjected to the prescribed caps, enter into spectrum trading and sharing arrangements with the other players. It should also have access to backhaul spectrum, numbering resources and right to interconnection, TRAI said.
As per TRAI, the existing licensing regime of unified license shall be continued, but, if a licensee with access service permit wishes to migrate to segregated network layer and service layer regime, it should be allowed to do so. The network provider should be permitted to take a separate licence under VNO framework for provision of services to the end subscribers.
Further, it added that the combined scope of access network provider and UL-VNO (access service) is equal to the scope of a licensee with access service authorisation. Meanwhile, to bring in transparency and accountability in the entire process for VNO seeking and entering into an agreement with network provider or unified licensee, a broad framework should be prescribed, including the process for application filing, processing and defined timelines.