Working group to be set up shortly to determine the modalities of sharing

Sharing will start with Delhi and MumbaiImpact of sharing will be seen within eight weeks BSNL, MTNL form part of the agreement

NEW DELHI: To address the problem of mobile phone coverage in big cities, telecom companies in private and public sectors using GSM and CDMA technology have decided to share infrastructure.

"A working group will be formed in the next two weeks to work out the modalities on infrastructure sharing. The group will be headed by a Joint Secretary in the Department of Telecommunications and would have officials of the service providers as members,'' Communications and IT Minister Dayanidhi Maran said after a meeting with CEOs of telecom companies.

Mr. Maran said within six to eight weeks the impact of the sharing would be seen. The infrastructure sharing would start with cities like Delhi and Mumbai and later it would be extended to other metros, he added.

"There were large parts in a city like Delhi which were not available for private mobile phone companies for putting up towers. By agreeing to share the infrastructure they will be able to access the towers of state-owned companies,'' he said.

"By coming together they can also get approval to set up limited base stations in sensitive areas, which they can share. This will improve coverage, address the problem of call drop and will benefit customers,'' Mr. Maran added.

While private players using GSM technology are already sharing infrastructure among themselves, it is for the first time that GSM and CDMA players will use the same infrastructure in a big way.

Both the state-owned telecom behemoths BSNL and MTNL are also part of the agreement.

Bharti Tele-Ventures Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal said his company was already sharing 30 per cent of its sites nationwide and would like to take it to 50-60 per cent.

He said with large-scale sharing, the number of cell sites in a city could come down. All this would result in bringing down costs for mobile phone companies.

The operators also agreed to the Minister's suggestion to look at the aesthetics of the skyline while putting up towers.

"It has been decided to camouflage the cell sites as is done in some of the advanced countries,'' Mr. Maran said. PTI