Indian Telecom Authorities Discuss Spectrum Allocation for 5G

Indian newspapers report that the government of India has started the discussion with Defence, the Department of Space, and the broadcasting ministry over the 5G spectrum. It is expected that the Department of Telecommunications will make an announcement shortly on the availability of the radiowaves for the next-generation technology.

Indian telecommunication service providers have been demanding for allocation of the spectrum for offering 5G services. The Indian government has missed the deadline to roll out the 5G service in 2020. Telecom companies need to prepare for the deployment of next-generation wireless services after the announcement from the government.

In India, the Department of Space, Defense, and Broadcasting Ministry are utilizing some of the spectra that would be part of 5G too, for their transmission purposes. Therefore it is very important to ensure that the spectrum to be allocated to the telecom providers doesn’t use those used by the Department of Space, Defense, and Broadcasting. The bands for different services shall be clearly identified and demarcated.

The Ministry shall sit with the traditional users of the spectrum such as the Department of Space, Defence, and the broadcasting ministry, and see which of the services can be shifted and which are the bands that are to be made available for mobile service. The process will take time.

On the other hand, telecom operators Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, and Vodafone Idea on Thursday said 5G spectrum identified by the government for auction is not enough and proposed prices are too high.

Telecom operators jointly pushed for starting 5G trials without any further delay.

Vodafone Idea also pitched for connecting more towers with fibers to support the next generation technology that will increase data traffic multifold

Reliance Jio Vice President and head for strategic initiatives, regulatory policy, and research Vishakha Saigal at the IMC said India needs to embark on the 5G journey without any further delay.

Adequate spectrum for mobile services very important for achieving the fullest functionalities of 5G. It seems the government has identified a smaller block of the spectrum. The government hS identified the prime mid band for 5G. The current allocated spectrum block is very less and at least 80-100 megahertz of the contiguous block of spectrum per operator is required for the successful rollout of 5G, an official familiar with the matter commented.

In order to encourage long-term investments in 5G, it is important to have a transparent and unambiguous spectrum policy with a clearly defined roadmap of available airwaves for the horizon of at least 4-5 years.

The Department of Telecom (DoT) has identified 300 megahertz of spectrum block for 5G services in which Defence and Department of Space have made claims for about 125 MHz leaving only 175 MHz of airwaves for telecom companies.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has recommended the base price of the proposed 5G spectrum in 3,300-3,600 Mhz band at about Rs 492 crore per Mhz unpaired spectrum on all India basis.

This comes to around Rs 50,000 crore for 100 megahertz of 5G spectrum required to deliver 5G services.

Currently, the prescribed prices are grossly inflated and they can seriously impair the ability of the industry and the telecom service providers in the infrastructure.

Bharti Airtel agreed to Jio’s demand around the spectrum and demanded that the 5G trials should start immediately.

India has a unique installation and operation characteristics in terms of challenges and opportunities. The country needs to embark on 5G trials at the earliest. 5G trials are a must and the service providers should start building ecosystems and use cases that are unique to India.

For 5G trials, spectrum should be allocated for a full 1 year period and due relaxations for import licenses or addition of OEMs (original equipment makers) should be allowed by DoT.

For 5G to happen in India, the proposed spectrum prices shall be revised at first and factors like connecting more towers with optical fibers need to be increased. Efforts should be made to fiberize towers and this will create opportunities for fiber cable companies in India.

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