In a letter to Telecom Secretary Anshu Prakash, BIF said it “strongly” disagreed with industry association COAI’s views that E and V band spectrum should be urgently auctioned to mobile carriers. BIF argued that E and V bands cannot be placed on the same footing as mobile access spectrum.
“Any auctioning of E and V bands would deny…consumers and the nation at large with the benefits of broadband connectivity and economic growth…go against the concerned Trai recommendations…go against international best practices,” Broadband India Forum (BIF) President T V Ramachandran said in the letter.
BIF said that as per the Trai recommendations of 2014, spectrum in both E band (71-76 GHz and 81-86 GHz) as well as V band (57-64 Ghz) were to be opened up.
It added that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) had further reiterated in 2015 its recommendation for delicensing of the V band in response to the telecom department’s comments.
“You would appreciate that Trai’s recommendations are aligned to the best practices followed internationally,” BIF said.
Over 70 countries have already opened up the 60 GHz band (V band) for delicensed usage, including progressive markets like USA, UK, Australia, Korea, Japan, South Africa and Sweden, it added.
“Moreover, in the countries where the band has been delicensed, innovation in the 60 GHz band has flourished,” BIF added.
In the E band (71-76 Ghz and 81-86 Ghz), Trai has also recommended that it should be subject to ‘light licensing’, in line with international best practices, it said.
“We would also request you to consider the fact that both E and V bands are microwave spectrum bands and should not be compared to mobile access spectrum,” the letter said.
BIF also said that the Supreme Court ruling of 2012 cancelling allocation to licencees pertained to holders of mobile access spectrum.
The Forum’s letter comes within days of the Cellular Operators’ Association of India (COAI) writing to Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, seeking urgent allocation of E and V band spectrum via auction to access providers.
COAI had cautioned that any decision on de-licensing or administrative allocation of high commercial value E and V bands spectrum would be against prevailing policy framework. It added the move would create non level-playing field for licenced telcos, cause huge revenue loss to the government, and would be legally untenable.
In its letter to the minister, COAI earlier this week had called for allocation of spectrum in these specified bands “through transparent auction to access service providers immediately”.
COAI had emphasised that these bands “are extremely valuable resources for India for 5G as well as backhaul for mobile broadband”.
Radiowaves used for transmitting signals to mobile phones are referred to as the access spectrum, while backhaul spectrum augments signals between mobile towers at the back-end.
Radiowaves in E band, which falls in 71-76 GHz and 81-86 GHz, and V band, that is 57-64 GHz, can transmit data at very high speeds, and the method of spectrum allotment in these bands has been a subject-matter of much debate in the sector, and within government circles in the past.