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TRAI directed to submit recommendations on additional spectrum availability by March

The WPC wing of DoT has requested TRAI to provide their recommendations on additional spectrum availability for the auction in 800 MHz, 900 MHz, and 1800 MHz bands at the earliest.

This is in the backdrop of:

  • Recently, Indian Railways in 23 States/UTs has surrendered spectrum earmarked to them in 900 MHz band which has resulted in availability of additional 1.6 MHz (paired) quantum of spectrum in 900 MHz band in 7 LSAs namely Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, North East, Orissa, Tamil Nadu LSAs.
  • Certain quantum of spectrum reserved for Government’s use in 900 MHz at certain locations spread across 6 LSAs namely Gujarat, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh (West) LSAs is also available now for auction. In Gujarat, Haryana, Punjab LSAs, this spectrum is available for assignment with immediate effect; whereas in other 3 LSAs, this spectrum will be available for assignment latest by 01.07.2022.
  • In view of the above surrender/vacation, spectrum availability in 900 MHz band in certain LSAs has increased. Table showing revised spectrum availability in 900 MHz band in different LSAs is given below.
  • In Haryana LSAs, 10 MHz (paired) quantum in the spectrum block 1765-1775/1860-1870 MHz is now available for assignment in entire Haryana LSA except Sirsa (with safe keep off distance). The required safe keep distance around Sirsa is being determined and will be communicated subsequently.
  • In 800 MHz band, frequency carriers with channel bandwidth of 1.23 MHz (paired) are assigned to TSPs/Government. With present 1.23 MHz channel plan, a total of only 14 blocks of 1.23 MHz are available. This channel plan was in use in view of the spectrum requirements of earlier CDMA networks deployed in the band. Further, Inter-operator guard band of 0.3 MHz was also provided for interference-free operation of different CDMA networks operating in the band. After the introduction of LTE technology in 800 MHZ band, there are not more CDMA networks operating in the band as on date. In view of the current trend of LTE networks in 800 MHZ band and existing spectrum holdings of TSPs/Government in different service areas, channel plan in 800 MHz band can be revised from existing channel bandwidth of 1.23 MHz (paired) to 1.25 MHz (paired) and frequency carriers assigned to TSPs/Government may be revised accordingly. As a result, inter-operator guard band may also be removed due to inherent characteristic of LTE technology, which may result in availability of up to 16 spectrum blocks in place of existing 14 carriers in each of the 22 LSAs.
  • Revision of channel plan in 800 MHz band was discussed with TSPs. While Reliance Jio has agreed to revision of channel plan from existing 1.23 MHz to 1.25 MHz and making available total 16 spectrum blocks in 800 MHZ band, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea have raised their concerns towards possibility of interference from downlink (higher power) of 800 MHz band (869-889 MHz) to uplink (lower power) of 900 MHz band (890-915 MHz) in case of making available 16 blocks in the downlink of 800 MHz band, due to slightly reduced band gap between 800 MHz (downlink) and 900 MHz (uplink) band, guard band requirement being demanded by Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea is around 1.6 MHz. In case it is decided to allot all 16 blocks (each of 1.25 MHz), the guard band available will be 1.5 MHz (for MHz LTE carrier in both 800 MHz and 900 MHz band) instead of 1.6 MHz being demanded by them. If demand of Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea is agreed to, only 15 blocks will be available for allotment. In any case, spectrum availability in each LSA will increase at least by 1 block of 1.25 MHz. further, with regard to existing assignments in 800 MHz band, no additional payment is required to be made by the incumbent spectrum holders as market price for block size of 1.25 MHz has already been charged on them.

CT Bureau

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