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Internet firms seek E, V band spectrum allocation on ‘first come, first served’ basis

Internet service providers’ body ISPAI has urged the government to allocate the premium E and V band spectrum on a ‘first come, first served’ basis as recommended by the telecom regulator TRAI. Radiowaves in E band, which falls in 71-76 GHz and 81-86 GHz range, and V band, that is 57-64 GHz, can transmit data at very high speeds.

The method of spectrum allotment in these bands has been the subject of much debate in the sector and within government circles.

Mobile operators Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea have demanded that E and V band spectrum should be auctioned.

“ISPAI representing the ISP (internet service provider) community of the country requested vide its letter dated October 22,2020 that the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) address the requirement of spectrum for ISPs and include ISP licensees for the allocation of E & V bands on ‘first come first serve basis’ in line with TRAI recommendations ‘on the subject ,” ISPAI said in a note.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had in 2015 recommended that both E and V bands should be under a ‘light touch regulation’ and allotment should be on ‘first come, first served (FCFS) basis.

“Since the international best practices support allocation of V band and E band spectrum on a light touch regulation or on license exempt basis, DoT needs to take immediate action as per TRAI reconsidered recommendations dated November 17, 2015,” the Internet Service Providers Association of India (ISPAI) said.

The internet service providers’ body said demand to auction E and V band spectrum is not only contrary to TRAI recommendations but also against the letter and spirit of the National Digital Communication Policy, 2018 which recognises the need for effective utilisation of these bands in line with international best practices.

Allocation of E and V band spectrum through auction has also been opposed by industry think-tank Broadband India Forum (BIF).

BIF said any auctioning of spectrum in these bands would deny consumers the benefits of broadband connectivity, and it goes against the regulator’s suggestions and global best practices. PTI

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