India approves active infrastructure sharing

17 Feb 2016

India's Department of Telecom has changed competition rules to allow for active as well as passive infrastructure sharing, in a move expected to help operators reduce capex costs by up to 35%.

The move to let operators share equipment such as mobile switching centers - as well as simply tower space - is also expected to help telcos reduce opex costs by around 5%, the Finanical Expressreported.

The revised rules limit the infrastructure that can be shared to “antennae, feeder cable, Node B, radio access network and transmission system,” a DoT directive states.

Active infrastructure sharing will also allow mobile operators to act on spectrum sharing agreements. Rules allowing for spectrum sharing were introduced in September but operators had been unable to enact such agreements without allowing for active infrastructure sharing.

The DoT has also recently introduced laws allowing for passive infrastructure sharing, but this was largely limited to enabling tower sharing agreements.

The biggest beneficiary of the new rule is expected to be 4G operator Reliance Jio Infocomm, which has already signed a spectrum sharing agreement with Reliance Communications and has yet to commercially launch services.

But even operators without spectrum sharing deals will potentially be able to benefit by negotiating agreements to use existing infrastructure as they expand into new areas.

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