India greenlights spectrum trading and sharing

The Indian government has approved the trading of mobile spectrum airwaves between operators.

Mobile providers will be able to sell or lend unused spectrum of any frequency band to their rivals, in a move aimed at increasing the quality of mobile services. Dropped calls are a major complaint among consumers in India, and represent an increasing headache for operators.

Telecoms minister Ravi Prasad said: “We have approved the spectrum trading norms today. Now the telecoms companies can trade spectrum among themselves.” Prasad noted that operators would need to make their plans known to the government “45 days before commencing trading”.

In June, guidelines for spectrum trading and sharing were approved by the country’s telecoms commission after being backed by the regulator TRAI. The government granted its approval for spectrum sharing last month, but has now given the go-ahead for trading as well.

Prasad highlighted the benefits of spectrum trading, noting that it could ease the issue of fragmented spectrum blocks as well as indicate a fairer market rate. The value of spectrum in India has previously been set by government-controlled auctions.

Spectrum buyers will incur a trading fee of 1%, which Prasad noted would be “calculated based on market rate or previous auction price.”

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