Telecom industry has asked the government to continue its policy of allotting microwave access and backbone radio-frequency carriers without auction, besides pitching for uniform guidelines on providing permissions for laying optical fibre.
In an open house discussion organised by sectoral regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on “allocation and pricing of microwave access (MWA) and microwave backbone (MWB) RF carriers”, various players of telecom industry conveyed that microwave is a supporting infrastructure and it should not be auctioned but be made available at lower prices.
Microwave technology is widely deployed by operators to provide point-to-point radio frequency links in mobile networks.
“Microwave is only a supporting infrastructure for mobile backhaul and should be made available as cheap as possible to facilitate cost effective spread of mobile services,” Bharti Airtel said in its comments to Trai on the consultation paper on the issue.
The meeting was chaired by Trai member RK Arnold and representatives from Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular, Reliance Communications and Vodafone amongst others presented their comments during the open house consultations.
Reliance Jio also said that MWA and MWB carriers should be assigned administratively and not through auction. The players also sought a uniform policy for getting approvals related to laying of optic fibre network.
Currently, fibre Right of Way (RoW) permissions are regulated by multiple local agencies and there is huge variations in cost, which makes fibre laying extremely expensive or non-viable in many urban areas.
The players asked the government that fibre be treated as resource of national importance and there should be uniform governing guidelines from Department of Telecom (DoT) on the subject to facilitate faster clearances and reasonable RoW charges across the country.
The telecom operators said it will encourage laying of optic fibre which is very important given the increasing demand for data.
The Trai had in March this year released a consultation paper on the issue asking for comments of stakeholders. The DoT had asked Trai to furnish recommendations for allocation and pricing of microwave access (MWA) and microwave backbone (MWB) radio frequency carriers. Microwave carriers in the frequency bands of 10GHz and beyond are called MWA carriers and below 10GHz are called MWB carriers. All voice and data signals – conversations, SMSes, video downloads -travel through the backhaul network.
Trai through the consultation paper had raised specific issues for consideration of stakeholders such as number of microwave carriers need to be assigned to telecom operators in case of 2G, 3G and BWA technologies, preferred mechanism of assignment of MWA/MWB carriers like administrative assignment or assignment through auction.