Newspaper articles are hailing a historic infrastructure sharing pact between two telecommunications bigwigs namely Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio.This will reportedly include optic fibre network – inter and intra city, submarine cable networks, towers and internet broadband services. The Times of India reports that,
“The cooperation is aimed at avoiding duplication of infrastructure, wherever possible, and to preserve capital and the environment. This will also provide redundancy in order to ensure seamless services to customers of the respective parties,”….”In future, the arrangement could be extended to roaming on 2G, 3G and 4G, and any other mutually benefiting areas relating to telecommunication, including but not limited to jointly laying optic fibre or other forms of infrastructure services. ..The pricing would be at ‘arm’s length’, based on the prevailing market rates
While infrastructure sharing sounds good in theory, my worry is the lack of competition oversight when such agreements are entered into. Where is the ex ante scrutiny to ensure that other operators/subscribers are not put to disadvantage by such agreements among giant service providers which could easily have a detrimental impact on competition in end user service delivery.