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Telecom department begins work to identify additional spectrum for 5G

The Department of Telecommunications is working on identifying additional spectrum to address Indian telecom operators’ demand for a “larger chunk” of airwaves to rollout 5G services, Business Standard reported.

“We have allocated the 3300 MHz to 3600 MHz band for 5G services. Worldwide, the allocation of bands for 5G services is from 3300 MHz to 4200 MHz. India doesn’t have that much bandwidth, so we are looking for an additional 150 MHz,” a senior official told the publication.

Telcos had previously urged the telecom department to ensure optimum availability of spectrum in the 3300-3600 mid-band earmarked for 5G services. Telcos have also raised concerns about the availability of just 175Mhz spectrum for all service providers and said that it is “grossly inadequate” and would impact the rollout of 5G services in India, ETTelecom reported.

“We have been taking up these issues with DoT/WPC regularly. We have been requesting DoT to kindly recognize the importance of the 3300-3600 MHz band for 5G, and thus, this band should be protected and exclusively used for 5G services,” SP Kochhar, DG, COAI, had told ET. “Presently, the availability of only 175 MHz spectrum in the 3300 MHz band is grossly inadequate.”

As per Kochhar, telcos would be ready for 5G when a minimum of 80MHz for telco is identified in the 3.5GHz band.

Auctioning of 175MHz spectrum would potentially grant an equal share of 60MHz of spectrum to each private operator but it would limit the usage of this band to 4G and would adversely impact the rollout of 5G services, Kochhar had said.

COAI, which represents Reliance Jio, Vodafone Idea, and Bharti Airtel, has further urged the telecom department to earmark 400MHz per telco in the mmWave bands (26, 28, 37GHz) and a minimum 2x10MHz per operator in sub-GHz bands 600MHz and 700MHz.

Initially, 3300-3600Mhz (300MHz) band was earmarked for 5G services. However, as per the revised spectrum allocation document, the government will only be allocating 175MHz (3425-3600MHz) of spectrum for 5G after ISRO and the Department of Space (DoS) flagged that they need the 3400-3425Mhz spectrum for NaVIC application.

Notably, ISRO has already raised a similar objection for 3600-3700MHz using its study, where 1300km separation is needed from 5G station.

The spectrum auction of 5G services in India has been hanging by a thin thread since the beginning of talks of 5G primarily due to three things: One, the pricing of spectrum for auction has been an issue of contention by telcos; second, the amount of spectrum that would be offered for bidding; and thirdly, whether or not to conduct 5G auctions this fiscal year. Gadgets Now

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