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I&B ministry moots huge gap between 5G BTSs, TV transmitters

The ministry of information & broadcasting (I&B) wants TV transmitters and the future maze of 5G base stations using 600 Mhz spectrum to be located at least 60-to-150 kms apart to prevent network interference and protect the quality of television broadcasting services.

This, even as telecom regulator is in the midst of suggesting base prices to the government of 10 spectrum bands, including 600 Mhz, earmarked by the government for 5G mobile broadband services. The government is looking to schedule the much awaited 5G spectrum auction around April-May next year.

The I&B ministry, in a letter to DoT, has said that since “the 526-582 Mhz frequency band (popularly known as the 600 Mhz band) is being used by Prasar Bharati (DD) for terrestrial TV broadcasting, the separation or keep-out distances are required to be kept between digital terrestrial TV transmitters and 5G base stations to ensure protection of TV transmitter services”. The keep-out distance, it added, hinges on “the antennae/tower height, transmitter power and frequency band of operation”.

The I&B ministry has cited a recent study by Geneva-based International Telecom Union (ITU) to underline its concerns to the DoT.

“The I&B ministry’s concerns are around possible interference between terrestrial TV and future 5G mobile broadband networks operating on the 600 Mhz band if the requisite keep-out distance between TV transmitters and 5G base stations is not maintained…that can impact the quality of TV broadcasting services,” said a senior industry executive.

The DoT, on its part, has forwarded a copy of the I&B ministry’s letter to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), which last month had sought views on a host of issues, including applicable reserve price, band plan, block size, quantum of spectrum to be auctioned and associated conditions for what will be India’s first 5G spectrum auction.

The TRAI has also invited stakeholder views on whether a methodology followed elsewhere globally can be used to value airwaves earmarked for 5G services.

The new 5G bands proposed include the super-efficient 600 Mhz and millimetre spectrum in 24.25-28.5 Ghz band. Besides, airwaves in the 700

Mhz, 800 Mhz, 900 Mhz, 1800 Mhz, 2100 Mhz, 2300 Mhz, 2500 Mhz and 3.3-3.67 Ghz bands are also under consideration.

TRAI recently extended the deadlines for stakeholder comments and counter-comments for its 5G spectrum bands pricing paper. Comments and counter-comments now need to come in by January 10 and January 24, 2022, respectively.

The regulator has also sought industry feedback on whether a certain chunk of spectrum should be earmarked for private 5G networks (such as automotive and other industrial uses), and how to price such airwaves. UR ALL NEWS

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