Reliance Jio is once again at loggerheads with rival telcos Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, this time over a proposal to allow inter-band spectrum sharing. Jio says it’s anti-competitive, while its competitors say it will mean better spectral efficiency.
All three telecom operators have filed their submissions on a consultation paper on telecom infrastructure sharing, spectrum sharing and spectrum leasing released by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in January. The paper covers a range of issues, including active and passive infrastructure sharing and improving roaming services in remote areas.
Jio says it’s anti-competitive
According to the Economic Times, Jio said in its submission that it opposes inter-band spectrum sharing because it will result in end-to-end network sharing and reduce capex and opex digital infrastructure investments by service providers who will have easy access to spectrum and networks.
“This will adversely impact competition in the sector,” Jio said.
Jio also said inter-band spectrum sharing would also “lead to loss to the exchequer” because the government would be unable to auction off new spectrum and charge new spectrum usage fees. The telco also said it would undermine the quality of spectrum auctions.
Spectral efficiency and QoS
Both Airtel and Vodafone Idea argue that inter-band spectrum sharing would improve spectral efficiency and lead to better QoS for consumers as mobile data traffic escalates with the introduction of 5G.
Airtel added that the spectral efficiency argument is borne out by the fact that spectrum sharing in general has been allowed since 2015 with the sole objective of enhancing spectral efficiency by combining/pooling spectrum holdings. Therefore, there’s no reason not to allow the same for inter-band access spectrum-sharing among telcos.
Vodafone Idea said it favors inter-band spectrum sharing because telcos must be allowed to fully monetise spectrum that they paid good money for in the auctions.
“As the spectrum is purchased on a market price through an open and transparent auction, the spectrum-holding TSP should have the right to fully exploit commercial value of the spectrum, including through inter-band sharing,” Vodafone Idea said in its submission.
Vodafone Idea further added that from the time of spectrum acquisition, a lock-in period of two to three years should be imposed before an entity is allowed to share it to ensure inter-band spectrum sharing is not abused as a practice.