Demand study for direct allocation of spectrum: Tech players say private networks to face delay

As per a DoT official, the guidelines will allow setting up of private networks as it is not expected that all the enterprises would want to get spectrum directly from government.

Demand study for direct allocation of spectrum: Tech players say private networks to face delay
As per the notice inviting application (NIA) for the upcoming spectrum auction, four options were laid out for setting up private captive networks.

The technology industry has said the move by Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to undertake demand studies before directly allocating spectrum to enterprises will delay setting up private captive networks as a result of which enterprises and industry 4.0 have lost out.

The industry thinks since DoT has defined no timelines, the move will allow telecom operators to get an advantage while there is a cloud of uncertainty over the idea of enterprises wanting to get spectrum directly from DoT.

DoT has released guidelines on private networks, wherein enterprises who want to set up their own captive networks would need to obtain spectrum from mobile operators on lease or get their networks set up by them. DoT has said enterprises may obtain spectrum directly from it, for which it will undertake demand studies and thereafter seek recommendations from Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai).

“The DoT guidelines would clearly delay the captive networks benefit to enterprises and impact the move to Industry 4.0. Demand estimatiion can be envisaged for public/external networks but never heard of for captive/non-public usage which will vary from entity to entity and category to category. We are not aware of any scientific demand estimates by Govt as a pre-condition even for any of our external 5G use cases or retail market or for 4G or 3G etc,” Broadband India Forum (BIF) president TV Ramachandran told FE.

The industry association counts technology players like Facebook, Google, Cisco, Amazon, TCS, Microsoft and Intel as its members.

Industry executives said it may take one to two years before DoT comes out with rules around direct spectrum allocation to enterprises. The technology industry thinks telecom operators have a clear advantage during this time as the enterprises have to rely on them for their spectrum needs.

“Moreover, when Trai’s recommendations are anyway being sought, why the need for a prior demand study? Further, is no time frame indicated for any of these. Clearly, these would cause a huge cloud of uncertainty over the entire idea of enterprises setting up private networks. The economy and the nation could lose out,” Ramachandran added.

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