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ITU-APT writes to Secretary-DoT

ITU-APT Foundation of India has written to K Rajaraman, IAS, Secretary, Department of Telecom recommending that Captive License should be merged with the WPC spectrum license and there should be a simplified process where the users directly apply for spectrum to WPC, instead of first going through an elaborate Captive Licensing process with DoT and then applying for spectrum to WPC. This will reduce the processing time to a signification 3- month period, says the letter.

The letter says, “ Industries from around the world have agreed on the fact that 5G and LTE will play a major role in the digital transformation of industries and enterprises in this decade. LTE and 5G wireless technologies will be a major pillar of the next Industrial Revolution, also referred as Industries 4.0.

One of the key examples of use of 5G in Industrial area is in the automobile factories of the future. Mercedes, a car manufacturer in Germany is setting up the world’s first 5G mobile network for automobile production at its latest factory known as “Factory 56”. This new project covers over an area of 20,000 square meters to run the production line. Having their own 5G infrastructure owned and operated by Mercedes carries together several advantages and is crucial in the implementation of smart manufacturing for the future, leading to better economies and exports.

Mercedes acts as an example to reflect light on the matter that, with a sperate captive network, the manufacturing can be optimized and made robust by linking production system and factory together in an intelligent manner, thereby supporting the efficiency and precision of the production process. A captive local 5G network helps in ensuring that the sensitive production data is not shared with third parties (such as a mobile operator) when enormous quantities of data is required for various test scenarios involving the future driven car.

Currently captive users of mobile wireless communication, such as Seaports, Airports, Logistic hubs. Industrial takings are facing various problems & delays in setting up their captive communication networks due to complex and long drawn process for getting an unnecessary CMRTS License ( it is not clear why such a license is needed since they are not providing any telecom service to anyone)

Private and captive wireless LTE and 5G networks will be a lifeline for sustenance of the country’s economic development, public safety and well as industrial development which are critical to support Atmanirbhar Bharat. A Private 5G network can deliver an ultra-low latency accompanying incredibly high bandwidth connections supporting artificial intelligence- driven applications serving an exploding number of sensors and endpoints. Such implementation would need access to a dedicated spectrum band. For example, in 2019 Germany announced Corporate License of 3.7-3.8 GHz band spectrum for private 5G networks putting forth under a limelight for intended usage and such services are core for industrial use.

Many developed countries have already licensed private captive 4G/5G networks. These include USA, UK, Germany, Australia, Japan, etc. Attachment 1 provides an example of regulations for captive licensing in Germany and Japan.

Captive users such as the paramilitary forces, along with metro rail projects are facing several hinderances and delays in setting up captive communication network due to complex and extensive process for acquiring unnecessary CMRTS (Captive Mobile Radio Trunking) License

The process of obtaining the DoT CMRTS License for captive industrial users typically takes between six months to two years as compared to less than a month in most developed countries, and this has become a major bottleneck in the Industrial development of the country. The same is illustrated in the table below:

Typical time taken for processing of Captive license applications

The main delay in getting the CMRTS license is coupled with the sequential nature of the process, wherein three separate licenses have to be taken by the agencies, from DoT one after the other rather than a single approval or as a parallel process which is the general norm in most countries.

Currently captive users only need wireless spectrum for their “captive” use only and no telecom service is being provided by them to the public or to anyone else. However, they are being asked to take a CMRTS license before they can apply for a WPC spectrum license. In principle, there should be no need for a separate CMRTS license under section 4 of the Indian telegraph act as these users do not provide any service to any customers and the wireless network is 100% used for internal communications and coordination purposes such as security, safety and logistics.” CT Bureau

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