The telecom regulatory authority of India and the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) are on the lookout for ways to effectively optimize the finite spectrum resources of the country. According to K Rajaram, the telecom secretary, the optimization of the spectrum bands will prove to be helpful for satellite and 5G broadband internet services. He further added that the frequencies in the ‘Ka’ and ‘C’ bands are essential for 5G services and high throughput satellites.
While addressing the delegates present during the virtual launch of ISpA (Indian Space Association), Rajaram said that as the spectrum is known to be a finite resource, it is important to oversee its efficient use. In order to ensure efficient use, it is vital to revisit the users in new frequency bands and existing frequency bands. Rajaram also stated that they are currently engaged in the exercise after consulting with Trai.
In the last month, the Department of Telecommunications had taken its first step towards a mega-spectrum sale and had provided Trai with a reference. DoT wanted fresh base prices for a wide range of airwave bands. It included prominent bands such as 3.3-3.6 GHz, 700 Mhz, as well as new bands like 600 Mhz. It also included the coveted millimeter waves like 28 GHz and 26 GHz that provide support to the satellite and 5G technologies.
The comments of the telecom secretary came when there was a fierce fight underway between telcos and satellite players over the auction of the valuable satellite spectrum present in the 28 GHz band, known as the ‘Ka’ band.
The satellite companies strongly discourage the government from agreeing to the auction of mmWave satellite spectrum for 5G services. The satellite companies believe that such a step would have a significant impact on the geographical reach and speed of data downloading in India. However, telcos have asked DoT repeatedly to make the airwaves available through auction. They believe that the unavailability of the airwaves would jolt the 5G business case of India. It would result in the surge of deployment costs and make the ultra-fast broadband service almost unaffordable for the people in the country.
According to Rajaram, DoT is actively taking into consideration the recent recommendations of Trai for companies providing low-bit-rate and satellite-based IoT connectivity services. He also added that they are expecting a firm decision to be taken soon. The decision will open up new opportunities for the machine to machine-based applications as well as IoT applications. The low bit-rate services that are based on satellite, mainly include sensor-based apps for tracking vehicles, running ATMs, IoT device connectivity, and remote monitoring of transmission towers or smart grids. The low bit-rate services can be leveraged to set up smart cities where there is an absence of terrestrial networks.
According to the recommendations offered by Trai, DoT must allow companies providing low bit-rate and satellite-based IoT connectivity services to get foreign satellite capabilities in order to make services affordable in India.
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