India’s Big 3 telcos have urged telecom secretary Anshu Prakash to push the sector regulator to quickly start a fresh consultation on including the coveted millimeter-wave bands – 26 GHz, 28 GHz, and 37 GHz — for the upcoming 5G spectrum sale, with recommendations around their quantum and reserve prices.
They request the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) for an early referral to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) for earmarking and including millimeter wave (mmWave) bands for auction along with other 5G bands like 3.5 GHz, as this is an imperative requirement.
The industry association has already highlighted the importance of the 26 GHz and 28 GHz bands as prime airwaves for rolling out 5G services in India, and that it was after “great effort and support from DoT” that these bands were identified globally for 5G by the International Telecom Union (ITU) in November 2019.
The DoT is yet to set a definite timeline for India’s maiden 5G spectrum sale. But telcos want it to allocate at least 400 units of millimeter-wave spectrum per operator, claiming that this is absolutely essential for the delivery of affordable 5G services in India.
While the telcos want DoT to push Trai to earmark both millimeter-waves and mid-band spectrum (in 3.3-3.6 GHz), the regulator has so far only earmarked mid-band spectrum for 5G services.
India must consider the allocation of mmWave bands for 5G and make it a part of the auction along with the 3.4-3.6 GHz bands.
Telcos have warned that unavailability of 26 GHz and 28 GHz spectrum – amongst the most efficient for 5G – could jolt India’s 5G business case. This, since without these airwaves 5G deployment costs would jump several-fold making the ultra-fast wireless broadband service unaffordable.
Telcos and telecom gear makers want the government and Trai to overhaul the “current inverted structure of spectrum policy,” wherein the raw material, as in spectrum, is purchased at the highest price but services are required to be rolled out at minimum rates for mass traction.
Both millimeter-wave and mid-band 5G airwaves are with the Department of Space and defense ministry. An apex panel of secretaries recently urged them to consider DoT’s request to part with all idle 5G spectrum for commercial use by telcos. The DoT has urged the government to release a whopping 3,000 units of premium millimeter waves and 300 units in the 3.3-3.6 GHz for 5G services.