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Tussle over 28 GHz band continues

The satellite communication providers and the telcos are divided over whether the 28GHz band be put up for bids in the 5G spectrum auction to be held in India.

In a recent meeting with Anshu Prakash, Secretary, DoT, Hughes Network Systems, Inmarsat and Viasat have put forward their request that half of 28 GHz spectrum not be put up for auction to mobile operators for 5G services as proposed. OneWeb, (owned by Bharti Airtel group) is not with the global satellite communication providers on this and has no issue with regard to sharing the 28 GHz band with the telcos.

Implications are huge for Hughes Networks’ project to build a satellite exclusively for India, and Elon Musk’s SpaceX & Jeff Bezos’ Amazon, who are likely to use this band for running both their satellite gateways and terminals to deliver high-speed broadband.

If this satellite spectrum is sliced off, it would rapidly reduce the serving capacity of satellite systems and the number of people that can be offered quality broadband services in India, he said.

5G trials might now get delayed as Airtel, Reliance Jio, and Vodafone-Idea insist that the Government sell millimetre wave bands in the auction. The Department of Telecommunication approved a millimetre spectrum band for the 5G trials.

All telecom operators state that they cannot spend time and effort to develop trials around on these bands unless the Government approves these bands for the auction. Besides, telecom operators want the Department of Telecommunication to release the revised National Frequency Allocation Plan (NFAP).

The telcos on May 17, 2021 had asked DoT to include mmWave band airwaves in NFAP so that can get clear information regarding the trials and the auction. “A reminder has just been sent to DoT that the revised NFAP has still not been finalized by its Wireless Planning & Coordination wing even after various meetings of the working groups were held and inputs provided by all stakeholders,” said SP Kochhar, director-general of the COAI.

If mmWave is not included in the upcoming revised policy, then it might increase the cost of overall deployment of the 5G network. In addition, the 5G services might become unaffordable for consumers in the country.

The 26 GHz and 28 GHz bands provide speed up to 2 Gbps along with a huge capacity, which is important for 5G use cases and these bands are available in other countries.
CT Bureau

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