NEW DELHI: The Department of Telecom (DoT) is willing to open up the much-coveted millimetre wave bands for auction in 2020 to facilitate ultra-high-speed fifth-generation or 5G services. Officials say DoT will go ahead with the plan only after seeking recommendations on pricing and other modalities from the sector regulator. It plans to approach the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in January for their views on these bands of 24.75-27.25 GHz.
This new 5G chunk is separate from the Rs 5.22 lakh crore spectrum sale plan approved by the Digital Communications Commission on December 20, under which 8,300 MHz of airwaves across 22 circles are set to be put on block in March-April 2020. Last year in August, TRAI had proposed that a total of 275 MHz in the 3300-3600 MHz frequency range be auctioned. It said that a further 25 MHz spectrum (3400-3425 MHz), which is presently being used by the Indian Space Research Organisation, should be allowed for 5G services after due negotiations with the space body to free up the spectrum.
In order to realise the full potential of 5G services, India took the lead role at Asia’s preparatory group for World Radiocommunication Conference in March 2018 in expressing its keenness on millimetre wave bands. The government-backed expert group, under the US-based Stanford University professor AJ Paulraj, had also suggested opening up of millimetre bands for 5G technology.
The group said that the millimetre bands in the 24 to 41 GHz block, which has plenty of spectrum but limited coverage, was most suitable for low mobility and fixed wireless access services. The task force indicated that India should open up the 24.25-27.5 GHz and 27.5-29.5 GHz bands for 5G deployment.
The Cellular Operators’ Association of India has been urging the government to seek Trai’s views on 26 GHz band. “We request an early referral from DoT to TRAI to make a recommendation for including the 26 GHz band for the planned spectrum auction in conjunction with other bands as this is imperative and will have a significant bearing on realising the deployment of 5G in India,” said its DG Rajan Mathews.