No exclusive pacts with telcos: TRAI to building-owners; CTI mooted

MUMBAI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued its recommendations on "In-Building Access by Telecom Service Providers".

An effective telecommunications infrastructure is an essential component of any building for its connectivity to the outside world. Telecommunications services such as voice, data and wideband multimedia services are indispensable in the modern society. In order to improve in-building coverage and to offer quality high data rate services, installation of in-building solutions (IBS) for wireless services and laying of cables such as copper cables, optical fibre cables (OFC),LANcables etc. is required.

To lay  cables  or  install  telecom  infrastructure   inside  the  building, Telecom Service Providers (TSP) lnfrastructure Providers (lP-I) require permission of the owner of the building. However, it is seen that generally restrictive practices are adopted by building owners while giving access to the building due to commercial. interests. In many cases, these owners enter into exclusive agreement with one of the TSPs for providing telecom services to dwellers and deny access to other TSPs, thus creating an artificial entry barrier for other TSPs. Such practices not only limit competition, it also leaves no choice to consumers except to avail services from the TSP with whom the contract is done; taking away choice and flexibility from the consumers which they would have had in terms of quality of service (QoS), tariff, redundancy etc.

In view of the above, a need was felt for policy intervention and to evolve a framework applicable to in-building facilities to enable the telecom operators to obtain efficient access on reasonable terms and conditions. Therefore, the Authority, suo-motu, decided to initiate a consultation process on the issue. Accordingly, a Consultation Paper on "In-Building Access by Telecom Service Providers" was released on 6 June 2016 seeking the comments of the stakeholders. An Open House Discussion (OHD) on the issue was also convened on 30 September 2016 at New Delhi.

Based on the comments received and further analysis, draft recommendations on 'In-Building Access by Telecom Service Providers' have been issued and the same have also been placed on TRAI's web site. Some of the main recommendations are:

(i)    TSPs/IP-ls be mandated to share the in-building infrastructure (IBS, OFC and other cables, ducts etc) with other TSPs, in large public places, commercial complexes and residential complexes in transparent, fair and non-discriminatory manner.

(ii)    Indulgence   into  exclusive  contract   prohibiting   access  to  other TSPs may be treated as violation of the license agreement / registration.

(iii)    Suitable provisions for  the creation of  Common Telecom Infrastructure (CTI) inside the building should form part of the Model Building Bye-Laws.

(iv)    The essential requirement for telecom installations and the associated cabling should be formed part of National Building Code of India (NBC), being amended by Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS).

(v)    Completion certificate to a building to be granted only after ensuring that the CTI as per the prescribed standards is in place.

(vi)    Access to building including CTI facilities be available to the TSPs on a fair, transparent and non-discriminatory manner and minimum three TSPs/IP-Is should have presence in the building.

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