Dept of Space doesn't want to free up any spectrum in 26 Ghz MM wave; telcos fret

KOLKATA: The Department of Space (DoS) has objected to any airwaves allocation in the coveted 26 Ghz millimeter wave band for 5G services, saying it can cause interference between satellite and 5G mobile networks and impact quality of satellite coverage.

At a time when telcos want the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and the sector regulator to ensure both millimeter-wave spectrum and other 5G bands like 3.5 GHz are auctioned in India’s first 5G spectrum sale (likely in 2021), unavailability of 26 Ghz spectrum could spoil the 5G business case in India.

Experts say without 26 Ghz spectrum — widely considered among the most efficient for 5G services – 5G network deployment costs would rise several-fold for telcos, making the ultra-fast wireless broadband service unaffordable in the country. They warned that India also won’t be able to leverage the 5G global devices ecosystem rapidly developing around the 26 Ghz band, especially with US, China, South Korea and Japan backing 5G global deployments in this super-efficient spectrum.

The DoS voiced its reservations at a recent meeting of the Asia-Pacific Telecommunity’s wireless group (AWG), and is believed to have also rejected a proposal of India participating in a global study on the potential co-existence of 5G mobile broadband and satellite operations on the 26 Ghz band.

Phone companies though want India to participate in the AWG global study to establish the criticality of deploying 5G services on 26 Ghz band, and also want the government to coordinate matters with concerned ministries. This is since a high-powered DoT panel on 5G had earlier told the government to coordinate with the relevant ministries to boost spectrum availability for industry.

“We are keen that interference and compatibility studies for co-existence of satellite and 5G services in India be undertaken, and request the government to coordinate this effort with the concerned ministries,” Dr S P Kochhar, director general of the Cellular Operators Association of India, told ET. The association represents Airtel, Reliance Jio and Vodafone Idea.

Kochhar added that COAI is pleased that the AWG is developing reports to understand and collect technical conditions for 5G deployments in millimeter wave bands – 26 Ghz and 28 Ghz — where many APT countries as well as others in other regions have started commercial offerings.

At press time, the DoS and Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) did not reply to ET’s queries.

Another senior telco executive said “blocking 5G deployments in the 26 Ghz band would be in direct conflict with the goals of the National Digital Communications Policy-2018”. This, he said, is since NDCP-2018 has recognised that airwaves in the 3 Ghz to 43 Ghz range are central to India’s 5G strategy, and 26 Ghz is seen as the super-efficient 5G band in that range.

The DoT is tipped to auction 5G spectrum next year, and has earmarked spectrum only in the 3.3-3.6 Ghz band for 5G. It is reckoned to be preparing a draft Cabinet note for a next 4G spectrum sale. Among the 4G bands on offer, airwaves in the 700 Mhz and 800 Mhz, can also be used for 5G.

The APT — an inter-governmental body founded by the International Telecom Union (ITU) and United Nations Economic & Social Commission for Asia & the Pacific (UNESCAP) — met last week to review 5G deployment plans in the region, including India, based on spectrum bands identified last November at the ITU’s World Radio-Communications-2019 conference.

Dept of Space doesn't want to free up any spectrum in 26 Ghz MM wave; telcos fret Dept of Space doesn't want to free up any spectrum in 26 Ghz MM wave; telcos fret Reviewed by TechCO on 9/21/2020 Rating: 5

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