Telecom regulator TRAI is likely to allow sharing of all kind of airwaves held by telecom operators for mobile services, including spectrum allocated at old price of Rs 1,658 crore (Rs 16.58 billion).
"TRAI is most likely to issue recommendation on spectrum sharing on Monday."
"It may allow sharing of spectrum allocated administratively but restrict telecom services to the ones allowed to be provided through those airwaves," a source told PTI.
At present, telecom operators are allowed to share passive infrastructure like mobile towers but not active infrastructure like spectrum.
Government had earlier in-principle approved sharing of only those spectrum under new licencing regime which have been purchased through spectrum auction to increase interest of bidders and enhance revenue generation in the auction.
It in-principle approved sharing of spectrum allocated without auction on condition that companies holding such airwaves will have to pay one-time spectrum charge which cumulatively amounted to about Rs 30,000 crore (Rs 300 billion) for both GSM and CDMA spectrum as estimated by DoT last year.
Attractive steps like spectrum sharing and trading have been put in place to encourage incumbent players to migrate to new licensing regime and create balance between new entrants and old players.
The price of spectrum in last auction was about 5-times more compared to price of spectrum allocated under old licencing regime.
The new regime was notified in August 2013 by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).
Telecom companies have challenged in court the government's decision to impose one-time spectrum charge and the matter is sub-judice.
The move to allow sharing of all kind of airwaves held by telecom operators for mobile services, if approved by government, will benefit incumbent players like Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular, Reliance Communications, Aircel and Tata Teleservices to bring down cost of spectrum ownership -- a key component for providing mobile and other wireless services.
The regulator is expected to allow operators to share same set of even 3G spectrum or same set of 4G spectrum but may not recommend sharing of inter-band spectrum like sharing between 3G and 4G.
At present, sharing of 3G spectrum is barred. Telecom operators currently have been allocated airwaves frequency in 800 megahertz (CDMA), 900 Mhz, 1800 Mhz , 2100 Mhz (3G), 2300 Mhz and 2500 Mhz (4G) for wireless telecom services.
TRAI may recommend the DoT to levy one-time non-refundable fee of Rs 50,000 per operator for each service area in which they opt for spectrum sharing.
The regulator may restrict sharing of spectrum to only telecom operators and count 50 per cent of spectrum being shared under spectrum cap rule. The recommendation of TRAI will be studied by the DoT and placed before inter-ministerial panel Telecom Commission (TC) for their decision.