NEW DELHI: The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) in a letter to the telecom department (DoT) reiterated the need to identify the spectrum in 6GHz band for fifth -generation or 5G mobile services in the country.
In a letter to the secretary, Department of Telecommunications, and Information & Broadcasting Apurva Chandra, dated August 10, 2023, COAI director general SP Kochhar said, “the most optimal allocation for the country in the 6 GHz band is to identify the entire 5925-7125 MHz (i.e., 1200 MHz spectrum) for IMT applications.”
Chandra is currently holding an additional charge of the telecom department, following K Rajaraman’s appointment as a chairman of the International Financial Services Centres Authority (IFSCA).
Incumbent telecom carriers in India have been demanding the government to identify frequencies in the 6 GHz (6425-7125 MHz) band, as well as seeking a support at the APT Conference Preparatory Group for WRC-2023 (APG23-6) conference.
However, a week-long APG meeting has kicked off in Brisbane today.
“We further recommend that DoT/WPC deliberate on the lower part of the 6 GHz band i.e., 5925-6425 MHz, and take it up for inclusion in IMT after taking a considered decision as per our suggestions above.” Kochhar in a six-page letter said.
Meanwhile, technology players say that 6 GHz airwaves should be identified and earmarked for Wi-Fi services in the country in order to drive broadband penetration in the country.
Broadband India Forum (BIF), headed by former telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan, argues that the government should delicense the spectrum available in the 6 GHz band for Wi-Fi services or at least partially allocate radiowaves so that the PM-WANI scheme could be utilised to achieve Digital India vision.
On the contrary, COAI believes that the 6 GHz frequency range would help in 5G expansion, and boost India’s digital economy, and the current ecosystem does not support the implementation of Wi-Fi 6E.
“By the time India might develop a compatible ecosystem for Wi-Fi 6E, 5G would have attained much higher features and spread expansively across India – offering much better speeds and lower latency than Wi-Fi, thereby making this requirement redundant to a large extent,” the telco group said.
Kochhar further feels that the licensed entities acquire spectrum through a fair and transparent auction process, and any move to delicense 6 GHz would only be a loss to state exchequer while the band would remain unutilised in future.
“Any delicensing of 6 GHz or part thereof will reduce the spectrum for 5G and thereby limit the growth of 5G and 6G, which would be the main drivers of broadband in the country,” it added in a letter.
Citing the recent mid-band (C band) spectrum auction in 2022, COAI said that it has derived a sale value of Rs 317 crore per MHz. “This clearly indicates the huge potential implication of the decision on licensing or de-licensing the 1200 MHz spectrum (of 6 GHz band) to the government exchequer.”
The available mid-band spectrum in the 6 GHz band (5925-7125 MHz) i.e., 1200 MHz of spectrum, according to Kochhar, has immense commercial potential as well as ample demand for deployment of International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT).
The 6 GHz spectrum band is the only additional contiguous spectrum available in the mid-band for IMT in addition to those airwaves auctioned last year.
Telcos argue that the mid-band would play a pivotal role in the future growth of 5G including the roadmap for 6G introduction in India. “This spectrum will be crucial as India firms up an action plan for Bharat 6G.”
Last month, London-based GSMA in a letter to Communications minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said that a “timely decision” by the telecom department to support 6 GHz band for mobile services could ensure a 5G-powered new phase of economic growth in India.
It was the third letter from GSMA in less than a year.
Recently, the department’s wireless planning and coordination (WPC) wing’s finding on the contentious issue remained inconclusive.