DoT Pushes for More 5G Spectrum, Asks DoS and Defence Ministry to Vacate Airwaves

The Department of Telecom [DoT] has requested the space department and defense ministry to leave airwaves in the medium and high range spectrum bands to launch 5G services. A committee has been formed under the chairmanship of Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba. This matter was discussed during the meeting of this committee. The key point of this meeting was to resolve spectrum-related problems.

Due to some differences among the DoT, Department of Space [DoS], and the defense ministry, there is a deferment in the rollout of 5G network services in the country. The Indian Government had set a target to roll out 5G services by 2020. However, the latest sources said that the auction of the spectrum can be organized only at the beginning of 2021. Everything will be done as per the plan if the issues are resolved in time.

DoT Pushes for More 5G Spectrum
DoT Pushes for More 5G Spectrum

The DoT has urged the defense ministry to vacate 100 megahertz [Mhz] of spectrum in the frequency band of 3300 – 3400 Mhz and access frequencies in the 3000-3100 Mhz band. It has requested the DoS to leave spectrum in the frequency band of 3600-3700 Mhz, said the latest sources. One of the government sources said, ‘The DoT is now looking for 400 Mhz of contiguous spectrum in the medium band which can be efficiently utilized by telecom operators to meet standard broadband speed for 5G services.’

Emailed queries sent to the DoT, DoS, and the defense ministry in this matter didn’t trigger an instant response. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India [TRAI] has rendered price recommendations only on the spectrum between 3300 and 3600 Mhz band for the subsequent round of auction depending on the reference asked by the DoT. As per the recommendations of TRAI, the price for the spectrum in the 3300-3600 Mhz band is Rs. 492 crores per megahertz. 

The Indian telecom operators who are willing to purchase radiowaves for 5G services need to spend at least Rs. 9840 crore on a pan-India basis to purchase spectrum in the 3300-3600 Mhz band. TRAI advised that it ‘should be put to auction in the block size of 20 MHz.’ As per the technical experts, a telecom operator will require a minimum of 80-100 Mhz of spectrum in the 3300-3600 Mhz band to accomplish the 5G standard. 

Bharti Airtel, one of the leading telecom operators in India said that it won’t bid for this spectrum at the TRAI-suggested price. The companies need to spend about Rs. 50000 crore to obtain a decent quantity of frequencies in this band. One of the latest sources said, ‘The scope of the committee under the cabinet secretary has now been expanded to discuss all spectrum bands including V-band that can be used for mobile services and their prices.’

On Monday, the initial meeting of the committee was organized. Later, the second meeting was conducted on Wednesday to speed up the track 5G deployment. The Department of Telecommunications has also urged the space department to quit its claim on a high-frequency band of 26 GHz to make available a minimum of 3000 Mhz of spectrum for 5G services, as decided by the International Telecommunication Union [ITU]. It sets global benchmarks for wireless services, at the World Radiocommunication Conference [WRC], 2019.

Previously, DoT accepted the demand of the Indian Space Research Organization [ISRO] to preserve the 26 GHz band through which the 5G ecosystem has been developed, specifically for satellite services. The DoT had come up with a proposal before WRC in line with the demand of ISRO. Still, the same was denied by the ITU. As per the latest source, ‘DoT has now proposed that the decision of WRC should be implemented in India which will also be in line with the global ecosystem.’

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