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Broadband India Forum bats for private 5G networks, refutes telecom operators’ revenue concerns

The BIF has written to the government after the telecom industry voiced concerns over private networks eating into enterprise revenues of mobile firms.  

The regulator has also suggested that an enterprise may obtain the spectrum directly from the government and establish its own captive network.
The regulator has also suggested that an enterprise may obtain the spectrum directly from the government and establish its own captive network.

Dismissing the objections raised by telecom operators over the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s recommendations in favour of private 5G networks, the Broadband India Forum (BIF) on Friday said with efficient private networks, enterprises would increase their productivity, which, in turn, will open enhanced revenue streams for the telcos.

BIF, the industry body of technology players like Facebook, Google, etc, has urged the government to implement the recommendations of Trai, allowing enterprises to build their own private 5G networks for captive purposes, at the earliest. The BIF has written to the government after the telecom industry voiced concerns over private networks eating into enterprise revenues of mobile firms.  

In a letter to telecom secretary K Rajaraman, the BIF said it is often misunderstood that private 5G networks would lead to revenue losses for telcos. In actuality, in the present scenario, majority of the enterprise revenues of telecom firms would be through external network services which comprises voice and data communications. “Captive usage in the current situation would only contribute a minor share in processes/applications like robotics, automation, etc, due to challenges in delivering the required SLAs (service level agreement) through public networks. Therefore, the speculated loss in revenues for telcos via enterprise services is a misplaced one,” the BIF said in the letter.

Trai has recommended that non-telecom enterprises would be allocated 5G spectrum for building their private networks. As per options given by the regulator, a private network can be rolled out through a slice of telcos network, or an enterprise may request a telco to establish an independent isolated private network in its premises using the spectrum of the telecom operator, or an enterprise may obtain the spectrum on lease from a telco and establish its own isolated captive network. The regulator has also suggested that an enterprise may obtain the spectrum directly from the government and establish its own captive network.

But the telecom industry has opposed the proposals. As per industry association COAI, “Enterprise services constitute 30-40% of the industry’s overall revenues. Private networks once again dis-incentivises the telecom industry to invest in networks and continue paying high levies and taxes.”

However, the BIF has countered the industry by sharing examples of countries where private networks are already rolled out. BIF said it needs to be acknowledged that many leading economies have already implemented and are running operational 5G networks for nearly two years now.

Further, telecom operators have also been provided the option of leasing part of their spectrum to enterprises at an affordable cost. “This is in line with global best practices as the option of spectrum leasing has been opened in many leading economies such as Australia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Malaysia, the UK, the US, etc,” it said.

Under private networks, corporates can set up their own WiFi, data network instead of taking services from any telecom service provider. The concept of private network is emerging as one of the most promising use cases of 5G.

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