Dec 10, 2008

India - Phase III FM radio: Operators will have to bear infrastructure costs

The government has said that in Phase III of private FM radio licensing, since there are many cities where the land and towers of Prasar Bharati are not available, the cost of collocation and common tower infrastructure (CTI) will have to be borne by the private operators.

Prasar Bharati infrastructure was available at almost all places in Phase II. At the five places where the infrastructure was not available, the government provided the money to set it up. That will not happen in Phase III, it says now.

In its earlier recommendations, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had said that all successful bidders should be mandated to collocate their transmitters within the existing facilities of All India Radio (AIR), if available.

And if AIR facilities are not available, TRAI said that the successful bidders could form a consortium and set up the required infrastructure for the collocation of all the transmitters identified for that district. They could also mutually decide infrastructure sharing methodology, a commercial revenue-sharing model, a service-level agreement and the methodology for the upkeep of such infrastructure within a period of three months.

During this setup, if there is no consensus among the successful bidders on the various issues regarding the collocation and erection of towers, then all the successful bidders should be mandated to have collocation with facilities to be developed by Broadcast Engineering Consultants India Ltd (BECIL).

Nevertheless, the government has affirmed that in cities where there is a vacant channel from Phase II and CTI has been created by BECIL, no such choice can be given and collocation at that site and utilisation of the CTI there will be mandatory.

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