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Jio proposes exclusive network for first responders, seeks exclusive 700MHz spectrum

Reliance Jio has proposed to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India that it can set up an exclusive communication network for first responders, including Police and entities like Railways, if the remaining 700 MHz spectrum band is reserved for telecom services.

Reliance Jio’s submission to the regulator gains significance in the context that a significant portion of spectrum in the 700MHz band, approximately 10 MHz was exclusively set aside for the Indian Railways

Reliance told the regulator – “We reiterate that while we agree that Railways requirements to provide mission critical passenger safety services and applications and video analytics for passenger security are valid and legitimate requirements, we strongly believe that the same can be met through non-IMT band spectrum instead of 700 MHz band which is one of the most important bands for coverage of IMT network.”

However Reliance Jio, further added, “Notwithstanding the above, in case it is decided that only the spectrum in 700 MHz band should be used for delivering high capacity, high efficiency and best performance along with highest security, the authority should consider recommending a common service provider (CSP) for meeting requirements of Railways and other bodies.

This will be in line with other leading / secure public infrastructure built globally. The CSP can ensure that Railways and any first respondent including police, fire etc. can leverage the common infrastructure to deliver a seamless first response to any calamity or event.”

Jio claimed like as is the case with FirstNet in the United States, this service provider will deliver an exclusive communication network for use of Railways and other first responders for Integrated emergency communication and response system (“IECRS”) using the spectrum in 700 MHz band already assigned to Indian Railways and entities like NCRTC. This will ensure the objective of efficient utilisation without any fragmentation of IMT spectrum.

Reliance, which purchased 10MHz of 700 MHz spectrum in the 2021 5G auction – is banking on this spectrum band to deliver a 5G network that is far superior to its competitors. It is the sole operator that possesses additional sub-GHz spectrum in the 700MHz band – which it can use to offer standalone 5G services.

Vodafone Idea is yet to commence its 5G rollout and Bharti Airtel hopes to refarm its sub-GHz spectrum used in the rollout for 4G services by the time 5G becomes well and truly entrenched in India. At this point, 5G rollout has been minimal as operators have struggled to monetize this network for years.

Nevertheless, 700MHz spectrum or any sub GHz spectrum for that matter is extremely valuable for IMT services as it allows for operators to give good quality telecom services with good coverage. The Hindu BusinessLine

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