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Govt urges telecoms for enhanced in-building solutions amid airport 5G restrictions

While the 5G services are barred right now due to security concerns at the airports, the government has reportedly asked telecom operators to put more in-building solutions in the airports so that customers have uninterrupted network.

In November, 2022, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had directed all operators not to install 5G sites within 2.1-km radius of a runway, after the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) rejected a proposal by telecom service providers (TSPs) to provide 5G services within airport premises using low radio-frequency power output.

“We are still talking to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, but meanwhile, in-building solutions are going to be put in the airports and testing is going on. Both, us and the Ministry of Civil Aviation, are very sensitive to anything which endangers the security of aircraft in the air,” a senior official in DoT told businessline.

Work in progress
He said in any case there are 3G/4G services at the airports, so it is not that customers are not able to get their work done. “So you have to be sure and work with the Ministry of Civil Aviation so that we don’t make any mistake…there is a dateline and it is a collaborative effort. In some cases, we need to change the altimeters – refit them or retrofit them – all that work is happening,” the official added.

According to Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) that represents TSPs like Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio and Vodafone-Idea, the operators are facing a significant hurdle in providing 5G services in airports due to DoT’s restrictions on the use of the C-band (3.5 GHz) for 5G services near airports and runways in accordance with DGCA’s instructions.

“These restrictions stem from concerns about alleged interference between 5G services and radio altimeters installed in aircraft…As a solution, COAI members had requested that the DGCA may consider issuing a directive to airlines for the time-bound replacement of radio altimeters and consider a downward revision of the current restrictions based on the technical inputs provided by TSPs,” S P Kochhar, Director General, COAI, told businessline.

COAI is of the view that the DoT order of establishing an exclusion/ buffer zone greater than 2 km for 5G services in the C-band is restrictive and can cause inconvenience to consumers, as it leaves large areas in every city without 5G services. In India, the band separation is around 500MHz compared with 100MHz in countries like Japan, where power restrictions have been proposed. Given this substantial separation, it should not pose a problem for aircraft, Kochhar said. The Hindu BusinessLine

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