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BIF seeks direct spectrum allocation for private 5G networks

Industry body BIF on Thursday batted for the direct allocation of spectrum for private 5G networks to enterprises at a nominal administrative fee, as the war of words intensified between telcos and tech companies on the vexed issue of captive networks ahead of spectrum auction for next-generation services.

Dismissing the position of telecom operators on the matter, Broadband India Forum (BIF) argued that the stance that private 5G networks would lead to revenue losses for the telcos, as expressed by certain entities, is a ”misconception”.

BIF also said indoor private campus networks do not truncate legitimate revenue of the telecom service providers but help to enhance productivity and efficiency.

A more efficient captive network through private 5G would lead to increased productivity for the enterprise, which would help grow business activities and external communications, in the process driving better revenues for the telcos, it said.

BIF has urged the government to earmark a certain amount of exclusive spectrum for non-public/private 5G networks in each type of spectrum band, as recommended by sector regulator TRAI.

It has made a passionate plea for the direct allocation of spectrum to enterprises and organizations at a nominal administrative fee, citing global best practices.

”Facilitate a light-touch online portal based paperless regime for acquiring permission/license for ‘Captive Wireless Private Network (CWPN)’ within 30 days of application, (as recommended by TRAI) to enable ease of doing business,” BIF said in its latest position paper on captive private 5G networks.

Describing itself as a technology-neutral and service agnostic entity ”with no bias or inclination towards any organization/ service/ technology/ vertical”, BIF emphasized that India needs private 5G to accelerate digital transformation, ‘Atmanirbharta’ and Industry 4.0.

India needs higher efficiencies in verticals like manufacturing, healthcare, education, agriculture, financial inclusion, and many other areas to accelerate the process of digital transformation, which is a national priority.

”This can best be achieved only through the use of private 5G networks,” it said, giving a point-by-point rebuttal to arguments put forth by telecom operators who have maintained that there is no justification for allocating radiowaves directly to enterprises for operating private captive networks.

Mobile operators are of the view that as licensed telcos, they are fully capable of providing all customized solutions most competitively and economically to private and public sector entities.

Countering this, BIF said ”private 5G networks are the best setup by enterprises themselves as they are the best qualified to do so.” Citing an example, it said a Maruti or an Apollo would know its system and requirements far better than anyone else, and therefore, would be able to customise and design the network and applications accordingly.

Most of the revenues of the telcos are external and that remains completely untouched, and hence they remain protected as does government revenue, it said.

The non-public networks or private networks constitute additional revenue streams for the telcos and government. This revenue stream has not yet been tapped, BIF observed.

”There would be no revenue loss to the Government on account of direct spectrum allocation for private 5G networks to enterprises, as they shall purchase the spectrum at a price to be fixed by the Government and allocated administratively,” it added. PTI

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