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DoT Gears Up For 5G Services, In Talks With TRAI About Commercial Deployment

The Department of Telecommunications(DoT) is preparing to open up new bands to support 5G services.

It will shortly seek suggestions from the telecom regulator on the suitability of the 28 GHz band for 5G commercial deployments, along with its views on pricing such airwaves, said people aware of the matter.

The government is examining the feasibility of allocating this spectrum band in India for 5G, close on the heels of South Korea auctioning these airwaves and the decision of the US Federal Communications Commission planning to do so from November 14.

The DoT plans to constitute a panel soon to examine whether 5G systems can be deployed in the 28 GHz band and co-exist with the current fixed satellite services in the same band.

It is mandatory to refer the matter of assessing suitability of a specific bandwidth and its pricing to TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India), and the government shall do so before taking a call on allocating millimetre spectrum in 28 GHz band for early 5G deployments in India,” said a senior DoT official, who did not wish to be identified.

He said the government would ensure the business interests of current users of the 28 GHz band in India such as the Indian Space Research Organisation are protected if a decision is taken to allocate these airwaves for 5G services.

India, he said, had signalled its interest in these potential 5G airwaves at a recent meeting of the Asia-Pacific Telecommunity wireless group in Bangkok, especially since 28 GHz is seen globally as “a frontier 5G band” and considered essential for early 5G deployments.

India’s new telecom policy – the National Digital Communications Policy 2018 – has recognised mid-band spectrum in the 3 GHz to 43 GHz range as central to India’s 5G strategy, and has called for identifying new bands for access and backhaul segments for timely deployment of 5G networks. The 28 GHz spectrum band would be within the mid-band range.

The quest for new 5G bands comes at a time when the government is looking to auction a mix of 4G and 5G airwaves in late 2019 and showcase the first batch of India-relevant 5G use cases by the year-end.

Analysts cautioned though that the pace of 5G adoption in India would hinge on the timing of the auctions and pricing of 5G airwaves.

Experts have pointed out that Trai’s suggested base price of Rs 492 crore per unit of 3500 MHz 5G spectrum – which was part of its spectrum pricing recommendations for the next sale – is much higher than Rs 65 crore a unit at a recent 5G auction in South Korea. Therefore, they said, India’s financially stressed older carriers such as Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel could give 5G airwaves a miss in the next sale if pricing is exorbitant, given that device ecosystems are yet to mature. – Gadgets Now

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