The department of telecommunications (DoT) will provisionally allocate two carriers of 250 MHz each (paired) in E-band to mobile operators administratively for meeting their backhaul requirements as they prepare to launch 5G services. The assignment will be done on interim basis for a period of three months and telecom operators will be charged 0.15% of their adjusted gross revenue (AGR) for the period, which will be adjusted retrospectively (from date of provisional assignment) based upon the pricing decided finally, though no interest will be charged for it.
“Telecom service providers (TSPs), based upon their application, would be allotted a maximum of two carriers of 250 MHz each (paired) bandwidth in E-band (71-76/81-86) GHz for their backhaul purpose in the LSAs where they are holding access spectrum in IMT bands,” a notification by DoT said.
E-band spectrum has the potential to provide high-speed broadband services, especially in remote areas and for better in-building coverage. Due to its poor propagation characteristics, E-band spectrum which is like fibre, can be used for broadband services but not for direct mobile connectivity.
“All E-band carriers assigned, as an interim measure, will be purely on temporary and provisional basis and all such assignees will have to participate in the auction and/or any other assignment methodology, as decided by the government after considering the recommendations of the Trai in this regard,” DoT said.
The spectrum charges shall be payable in four quarterly instalments during each financial year (FY). Instalments of the charges for the first three quarters shall be paid within 15 days of the completion of the relevant quarter while for the last quarter, the spectrum charges should be paid by March 25 on the basis of expected revenue for the quarter, subject to minimum payment equal to the revenue share paid for the previous quarter.
Use of E-band carriers, other than backhaul, will lead to immediate withdrawal of these carriers.
The DoT has also decided to increase the limit of maximum number of microwave access carriers that can be assigned to a telco. As per DoT, for metros and category A circles, 8 carriers can be assigned as against the existing 4 while in category B and C circles, 6 carriers can be assigned as against the existing 3.