PTA suggests sharing of mobile towers
KARACHI: Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) appears cautioned that current pace of infrastructure and coverage expansion from the cellular companies would increase mobile towers to 30,000 by 2010, which currently stand at 1,2000 across the country, causing health and environment concerns.
In a consultation paper issued to formulate infrastructure sharing policy guidelines for the cellular companies, the telecom regulator stressed for the measures, which could avoid unwanted change in the landscape.
“At present, mobile companies have installed about 12,000 towers countrywide and it is safely predicted that this number will cross 30,000 in 2010,” said the PTA paper.
“The prediction is based on the growth rate, market structure, competitive forces, economic conditions of the country, leftover portion of the country for service provision and 3G licensing in pipeline.”
It said due to this phenomenal growth forth mentioned concerns were attracting attention for arising need of infrastructure sharing. In the course, it said, operators were encouraged initially to work out their plans and modalities to make it success.
“The construction of towers is mushrooming and in near future towers population across the country will change urban and rural landscape,” added the paper. “A need is thus felt to have a framework in place guiding and promoting the sharing of communication infrastructure.”
The PTA said present individualism was reflecting under-utilisation of tower sites and resources and was also a burden on the operators. There was also general public concern over effects on health and environment due to growing numbers of towers in cities towns and rural areas.
“It is therefore imperative that resources are pooled and cost shared in planning and setting of BTS,” added the PTA consultation paper.
The PTA said currently regulatory environment in Pakistan did not oblige the licensees to share infrastructure with their competitors. Each licensee was expected to build or lease the infrastructure it required, although the license they own allows them to share their infrastructure on commercial arrangements.
“PTA, so far, has not issued any guidelines to regulate the matter. Penetration in rural areas is increasing,” said the telecom regulator.
Infrastructure sharing in Europe is translated as having simply two or more operators coming together to share various parts of their network infrastructure for the purposes of their service provisioning.
As the PTA paper suggests these can take numerous forms, ranging from the simplest one of sharing of space on masts and in associated buildings or sites and typically results in two or more physically separate networks; to geographic division of a market.
Last month in the country three cellular companies – Ufone, Telenor and Warid – signed a memorandum of understanding facilitating operators to share their infrastructure for 10 years with mutual consent. The memorandum is the first of its kind between three leading mobile phone operators in Pakistan.
“Infrastructure sharing can have a number of variants, but its ultimate objective is reduction of costs associated with setting up mobile radio network by sharing such facilities between one or more mobile operators,” added the PTA consultation paper.
“In its simplest form it is the sharing of space on masts and in associated buildings or sites (sometimes referred to as “mast sharing”). In this form there are still two physically separate networks.”
Source: The News