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SIA urges India to align with Europe, 120 nations on spectrum allocation

Expressing concerns over telecom regulator Trai’s recommendations on spectrum auction, satellite communications industry body SIA has written to the government urging it to align the radiowaves allocation policy with Europe and over 120 countries.

Satcom Industry Association (SIA), in a letter to Telecom Minister Ashwani Vaishnaw, expressed serious concerns on recommendations of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) to include 27.5 to 28.5 GHz and 3.60 to 3.67 GHz bands in the proposed 5G spectrum auction.

“This will definitely impact existing businesses and affect the livelihoods of those already using these bands and established services, including substantial investments made to provide broadcasting, broadband services via satellite,” the industry body said.

The 26 Ghz and 28 Ghz bands, technically called millimetre wave (mmWave) bands, are considered high frequency range, where the signals transmitted cover shorter distances but at very high speeds.

The mobile base station transmitting signal in these bands for 5G services will have to be at closer distance compared to base stations installed using large towers in case of 2G to 4G mobile services.

SIA said the government has already effected more than a dozen sets of reforms in September 2021 for the mobile services industry to thrive and grow further and likewise, preserving frequency in the range of 27.5 to 29.5 Ghz band, globally prioritised for satellites, should be a high priority.

“Promotion of one sector at the expense of another could lead to protectionism,” it added.

SIA said that global body International Telecommunication Union, which coordinates and finalises spectrum usage globally, has identified only 26 Ghz band for 5G mobile services and not the 28 Ghz.

Trai has recommended usage of spectrum in 26 Ghz and 28 Ghz bands on sharing basis for satellite and mobile services.

The satcom industry body said there are no studies available on shared usage of 28 Ghz band for mobile and satellite services, and hence it will be risky for India to do so.

“India should align with Europe and the over 120 countries that have assigned IMT 5G and ESIM (earth satellite in motion/fixed satellite service) GSO (geostationary satellite orbit) and non-GSO in separate bands,” the industry body said.

“…Plum Consulting highlights that giving away satellite worthy bands would incur loss of substantial overall economic opportunities with the Indian citizens being denied the benefits of high-demand, advanced satellite broadband services…,” SIA said.

Additional spectrum brought to auction has a two-fold impact of creating an oversupply that dampens the auction proceeds realised by the government while also crippling established economic value delivered by other sectors using these frequencies, it argued.

The government is in process of finalising recommendations received from Trai for the auction.

Vaishnaw has said the auction is likely to begin in the first week of June and rollout of 5G services in the country is expected to begin by August-September. PTI

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