India’s government is planning to prohibit spectrum sharing in advance of further frequency auctions, according to a report from the country’s Economic Times newspaper.
Authorities appear to be concerned that spectrum sharing would lead to some form of “cartelization” among operators and lower the value of the frequencies put up for sale. According to the report, however, another regulatory spokesperson has said the situation is under review.
“We have decided to assess whether we need to allow sharing of spectrum at this juncture,” said the official from the Department of Telecommunications, as quoted by the Economic Times. “We are trying to understand the practices in other countries and see whether we need to allow sharing of spectrum at all.”
India’s operators have been looking to share spectrum with one another in areas where there are frequency shortages and are likely to be worried about the implications of the report.
Placing such restrictions on the industry is likely to drive up the bid prices during auction processes by increasing the demand for a limited supply of airwaves.
According to the Economic Times, the Department of Telecommunications had previously been studying a proposal that would have allowed operators to share spectrum up to a certain limit and required them to pay a fee to the government for the privilege.
Regulatory authorities may have reconsidered after India’s Comptroller and Auditor General accused them of failing to tackle abuses by operators in the country’s last two spectrum auctions.
Nevertheless, the uncertainty probably stems from ongoing debate about the precise meaning of spectrum sharing.
Allowing an operator to rent capacity on another’s network – much like a mobile virtual network operator – could be seen as one form of spectrum sharing, and is something government authorities are keen to permit, according to the Economic Times report.
In some countries, however, operators have gone as far as teaming up in joint ventures to buy 4G frequencies during state-run auctions.