The Broadband India Forum (BIF), which had batted for private 5G networks by enterprises, on Wednesday said the Cabinet’s decision to enable captive networks is a forward-looking step that will drive digital transformation, augment industry efficiencies and lead to greater economic benefits.
BIF — whose members include tech giants Google, Amazon, Meta, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), among others — had made a passionate pitch for direct allocation of spectrum for private 5G networks to enterprises at a nominal administrative fee, countering telcos’ stand on the vexed issue.
The industry body hailed the Cabinet’s decision to enable private 5G networks as a forward-looking step, and “a harbinger of the digital transformation which is critical for Digital India”.
Private networks would further provide an additional source of revenue for the government through the licence fees and administrative costs paid for the spectrum allocated to them, BIF reasoned.
It further said given India’s aspirations to become a global manufacturing and supply chain hub, and building self-sufficiency in manufacturing, private 5G would be ‘crucial’ for the enterprises to augment efficiencies, enhance productivity and march towards Industry 4.0.
“Due to the digitalisation of all sectors made possible through private 5G networks for enterprises, India can make massive gains in GDP and in the quality of living for the common man. More private networks would also lead to more employment opportunities and business, and in turn, translate into greater economic output and benefits,” BIF said in a statement.
BIF President T V Ramachandran said: “As we look to cement India’s position as a global hub for manufacturing, supply chain and R&D, as well as one of the leading digital economies across the world, the advancement of enterprises through dedicated captive private 5G networks will help gain efficiencies in all vital industry verticals…” BIF said the Notice Inviting Applications (NIA) for spectrum auction released on Wednesday permits all the four methods of allocating spectrum for private 5G networks as recommended by the regulator TRAI, including the option of enterprises obtaining spectrum directly from the Telecom Department.
“This provides enterprises the much-required right to develop their private 5G networks based on the specialised requirements for their distinctive captive use,” BIF said.
Earlier this month, telcos’ association COAI had said there is no justification for allocating radiowaves directly to enterprises for operating private captive networks, and that licensed telcos are fully capable of providing all customised solutions in the most competitive and economic manner to private and public sector entities.
As per the bid document of the Department of Telecom (DoT), the government from time to time will publish required provisions or rules and licensing terms and conditions for enabling the setting up of Captive Non-Public Network (CNPN).
Enterprises setting up these networks may obtain the spectrum directly from DoT and establish their own isolated network.
However, for this to happen, DoT will undertake demand studies and thereafter seek TRAI recommendations for direct assignment of spectrum to such enterprises.
For now, enterprises setting up private captive networks will be able to obtain the spectrum on lease from telcos having access service authorisation and establish their own isolated network. Required licensing terms and conditions and spectrum leasing guidelines will be issued by the telecom department.