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IAFI calls for dedicated spectrum for Industrial 5G networks

IAFI (ITU- APT Foundation of India) in a letter to the Industry Minister, Shri Piyush Goel and the Communications Minister, Shri Ashwani Vaishnaw has called upon the government to promote “make in India” and “Atamnirbhar Bharat” by promoting their manufacturing activities to Industry 4.0 with Captive Industrial cellular 4G/5G networks also referred to as NPNs (Non-Public Networks) in order to catch up with other industrialized nations. It its letter to the two Ministers, IAFI has brought out that most of the developed countries  have already licensed NPNs and reserved necessary frequency spectrum needed to operate these networks.

NPNs (Non-Public Networks), have been gaining traction globally to support Industry 4.0 due to privacy, security, reliability, and performance advantages over public cellular mobile networks to replace hardwired connections that are traditionally used in the Industrial environments.

Industrial and enterprise cellular networks based on 3GPP LTE and 5G technologies have a serious edge as an all-inclusive connectivity platform for critical communications. Traditionally, these sectors have been dominated by two-way radios, Wi-Fi, industrial Ethernet, fiber and other wired networks.

Presently, 3GPP has been actively working on development and standardization of new features needed for Industrial and enterprise users such as Mission-Critical push to talk, video & data, Ultra-Reliable, Low-Latency Communications, and these have been effectively used by the Industrial countries to further enhance their local manufacturing capabilities.

Therefore, private LTE and 5G networks are going to see an upward thrust going forward. Their deployment will target a multitude of use cases across various industries, ranging from dedicated connectivity in factories, warehouses, mines, power plants, substations, offshore wind farms, oil and gas facilities, construction sites, maritime ports, airports, hospitals, office buildings and university campuses.

In recent years, the opening of private spectrum by the national regulators in most of the Industrialized countries to Industries and captive users in these countries is accelerating the adoption of captive NPN 4G and 5G networks.

The table below Indicates how industrialized nations are taking advantage of the 5G and LTE technology to modernize their local manufacturing capabilities:

Country Policy to promote Local manufacturing competence
United States Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) spectrum sharing scheme
Germany 3.7-3.8 GHz and 28 GHz band for 5G campus networks licenses
South Korea e-Um 5G allocations in the 4.7 GHz band
Japan 4.6-4.9 GHz band for local 5G network licenses
Finland’s 2.3 GHz and 26 GHz band for local 4G/5G networks licenses
United Kingdom Shared and local access licensing model
Canada NCL (Non-Competitive Local) licensing framework
France Vertical spectrum and sub-letting arrangements
Netherlands Geographically restricted mid-band spectrum assignments
Bahrain Private 5G network licenses
Sweden 3.7 GHz and 26 GHz permits
Norway Regulation of local networks in the 3.8-4.2 GHz band
Poland Spectrum assignment for local government units and enterprises
Australia Apparatus licensing approach
Taiwan 4.8-4.9 GHz spectrum for private 5G networks
Hong Kong  Localized Wireless Broadband System (LWBS) licenses
Brazil Private Limited Service (PLS) licenses

China too, where mobile operators have always been at the forefront of initial private 5G installations – have started allocating private 5G spectrum licenses directly to end user organizations.

Vast swaths of global and regionally harmonized license-exempt spectrum are also available worldwide that can be used for the operation of unlicensed LTE and 5G NR-U equipment for private networks.

IAFI believes that most even as Mobile Operators in the country are doing a great job for connecting the unconnected and reaching out to all consumers, it is necessary for the Government to consider direct assignment of Spectrum to Industries and enterprises.

For India to make most of this opportunity, IAFI has asked the government to urgently:

  • Reserve spectrum in 4.9 GHz band (and also in other bands) for direct assignment to Industries and enterprise captive users.
  • Delicense 5925-6425 MHz spectrum for advanced WiFi needed by the enterprise and innovation sector.

CT Bureau

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