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ITU-APT writes to MoC seeking delicensing of V band

Bharat B Bhatia, President, ITU-APT Foundation of India has written to Ashwini Vaishnaw,  Minister of Communications and IT. While congratulating the ministry for the telecom reforms announced by the government last week, the foundation highlighted another critical issue, which is pending a decision by the Government since 2015. TRAI has been recommending delicensing of V band since 2015. Various economists have pointed out that de-licensing of V band could unleash an unprecedented economic growth and increased GDP. The estimated Economic Value of Wi-Fi in the unlicensed spectrum bands (including V band) in India is expected to be about Rs 12.7 lakh crores (for GDP at current prices) in 2025. The V band spectrum has mostly been sitting idle in the country, while most developed countries are enjoying increased economic development by using these frequency bands.

Summary proposal. Majority of rural India still do not have access to the internet. Broadband penetration in rural India is limited to a mere 29.2 per cent, as on 31 March 2020, as mentioned by the former Minister of State for Communications, in a reply to a Rajya Sabha question. A fully delicensed V band could help create the necessary innovation by our young engineers and scientists in rural and remote area to overcome these challenges provided DoT helps in delicensing the needed spectrum.

Prime Minister’s Wi-Fi Access Network Interface (PM-WANI) is a critical initiative by the government to elevate wireless internet connectivity in the country which will completely revolutionise the innovation and will also substantially improve the wireless connectivity of the country as well as boost the “ease of doing” business and also “ease of living”. “The scheme would enable our small shopkeepers to provide Wi-Fi service. This will boost incomes as well as ensure our youth gets seamless internet connectivity. It will also strengthen our Digital India mission,” said the Prime Minister in a tweet recently. Delicensing of V band is a critical input to meet this aspiration of small shopkeepers in rural and suburban areas and a critical requirement of PM-WANI.

The V-band offers a wireless solution that can speedily help meet the aspirations of PM-WANI as these bands can be deployed as an alternative solution to backhaul the large traffic in urban, suburban and rural environments while considerably reducing right-of-way hurdles. The V-band is considered as the ideal solution in providing high-capacity wireless links needed for PM-WANI. This band has short link lengths due to oxygen absorption characteristics of these frequencies that make it almost interference free and ideal for deploying large number of short links. Considering its utility, many countries such as Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States have already delicensed the 60 GHz band. TRAI had already recommended that the V-band should be opened up for acceleration of broadband penetration.

Delicensing the V band would be in line with other developing and developed countries of the world to support innovation by our own engineers in line with the global ecosystem for low-cost outdoor WI-FI and fixed wireless networks based on global IEEE standards (such as WiGig or “Wireless Fiber” or others) for providing high capacity links to meet the needs of Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Modi vision of connecting all the villages with high speed broadband. V band delicensing offers such an important opportunity to meet the dream of our beloved Prime minister.

ITU_APT Foundation appealed that the lower V band (57-66 GHz) be immediately delicensed without specifying any channel bandwidth in line with relevant IEEE standards.
CT Bureau

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