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Telecom operators to get headstart on private networks

According to an 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.

The companies have to get permission from DoT (WPC) for importing equipment and have to get SAFCA clearance for installing the equipment.(IE)

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is likely to release the guidelines on private networks in the coming few days.

The guidelines under phase 1 will relate to setting up of private 5G networks in partnership with telecom operators like taking spectrum on lease or enterprises getting their networks build by them.

The rules around direct spectrum allocation to enterprises will be taken in phase 2 as a DoT committee is currently working on the matter, after which recommendations will be sought from Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) regarding pricing and other details.

According to sources, the DoT is going to allow enterprises to take spectrum on lease from multiple telecom operators as per their requirements.

The price for spectrum taken on lease can be decided by the interested parties.

Also, the enterprises setting up their private networks have to give an undertaking that there will be no interference with public networks.

The companies have to get permission from DoT (WPC) for importing equipment and have to get SAFCA clearance for installing the equipment.

A tug of war is already going on between technology companies and telecom operators over direct allocation of spectrum to enterprises for setting up private networks.

The Cabinet has decided that enterprises can get spectrum directly from government but since DoT needs to firm up plans around pricing, security conditions and other compliances for direct spectrum allocation, it has been decided that guidelines should be released wherein enterprises can set up private networks by getting spectrum from telecom operators.

According to an 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.

“Those who want their private networks established by telecom firms or third parties by getting spectrum on lease, can plan accordingly.

“Some enterprises who want to get spectrum directly only, will have to wait for some time,” the official said.

The Broadband India Forum, which counts big tech players like Facebook, Google, Cisco, Amazon, TCS, Microsoft, Intel, etc as its members, and is a proponent of direct allocation of spectrum, has suggested that the same should be done at nominal administrative fee, as per global best practices.

As reported earlier, Cellular Operators Association of India has strongly opposed any direct allocation of spectrum to enterprises for private networks.

The association, which has all the three telecom operators — Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, and Vodafone Idea — as its members, has said that direct spectrum allocation to enterprises for private networks would give them backdoor entry into telecom services, deprive government of revenues, and also pose security threat.

It also said that the move would lead to revenue loss for the telecom operators and threaten their business viability.

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