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ISpA opposes telecom dept’s proposal to auction airwaves
The Indian Space Association (ISpA) has called for reverting to administrative allocation of spectrum for space-based communication services, opposing the telecom department’s proposal to auction the airwaves.
The lobby group representing service providers, including Bharti-backed OneWeb, and Hughes Communications besides space-based communication startups, will advocate for direct allocation of airwaves by the government.
In its representation to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), which is currently engaged in consultations to determine a suitable approach, the ISpA will emphasize the merits of administrative allocation.“We will submit our representation to Trai. Spectrum must not be auctioned. In the US, Brazil, Thailand and South Korea even if spectrum was auctioned before, they have now reverted to allocation,” said A.K. Bhatt, director general, ISpA.
The ISpA has also sought for government allocation of airwaves in the 28 Ghz band for satellite communication services. The band must not only be kept for use of 5G services since the world over, the 28 Ghz band is designated for satellite use, he added.
Furthermore, space frequencies cannot be given individually and must be a shared resource, hence auctioning to individual players is not advisable. “It will compromise the timing, quality and affordability of last-mile connectivity, especially for underserved and unserved population.” he said.
Sunil Bharti Mittal, executive chairman, OneWeb, has backed the proposal of administrative allocation of airwaves instead of auctions, as it would impair the telco’s plans of taking satellite services to India’s remotest locations that do not have any connectivity. OneWeb has its set of satellites ready for providing services but is awaiting the regulator’s suggestions and subsequent policy recommendation which will determine the allocation of spectrum.
The firm is set to launch services by July-August this year.
ISPA works in coordination with other agencies including Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe) and NewSpace India Limited, the commercial arm of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
The agency also intends to argue that the Supreme Court judgement on the 2G case in 2012 followed by the Court’s verdict on the reference, indicated that the judgement was applicable on 2G airwaves and that the Court had left it to the government to decide on the method of allocation for other purposes.
The regulator has sought for comments of stakeholders by June 1, following which it will hold open house consultations before arriving at its final decision. However, the department of telecommunications in its reference to Trai only mentioned auction of airwaves as a manner of allocation. Livemint
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