Telecom operators and ISPs should mandatorily share network infrastructure within buildings, residential apartment, public spaces, etc. with other operators and ISPs in a transparent, fair and non- discriminatory manner, while a minimum of three operators should be present in these spaces, India’s telecom regulator TRAI said in a recommendation notice (pdf).

The recommendation comes more than six months after TRAI initiated a consultation where it addressed challenges faced by consumers who are forced to use a singular ISP/telco service. Some telcos/ISPs create an artificial entry barrier for other providers, “taking away choice and flexibility from the consumers which they would have had in terms of quality of service (QoS), tariff, redundancy, etc. TRAI said.

Based on the comments received from industry stakeholders and public, the regulator made a 6-point recommendation to curb these restriction placed on consumers and service providers alike:

  1. Telecom operators and ISPs are mandated to share networking infrastructure such as cables, ducts, In Building Solutions (IBS), etc with other telcos and ISPs in large public spaces, commercial/residential complexes, etc in transparent, fair and non-discriminatory manner.
  2. Telcos/ISPs indulging in exclusive contract agreements prohibiting access to other service providers may be treated as violation of license conditions.
  3. Creation of “Model Building Bye-Laws” wherein a common telecom infrastructure should be created inside building premises to be shared by service providers.
  4. Under the National Building Code of India (NBC), essential telecom infrastructure installation and other minimum cable requirements in buildings/apartments could be amended by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS).
  5. Completion certificate to builders and owners will only be given after ensuring that a prescribed common telecom infrastructure installation are in place.
  6. Access to the common telecom infrastructure facility should be made available to the service provides on a fair, transparent and non-discriminatory manner while a minimum three telcos/ISPs should have a presence in a building or residential apartment.

Right of Way grant for service providers

 The current recommendations are issued in addition to existing rights available to telecom operators under The Indian Telegraph Right of Way Rules 2016, wherein service providers can temporarily acquire land for laying down fiber cables and mobile towers. Under these rules, service providers will first need to submit an application with details about land required for laying fiber or details of structures/building in case of erection of mobile towers while a nodal officer looks in granting/revoking permission. More on this here.