Telecom ministry will identify spectrum band to roll out 5G network in India.
Telecom Department will also make available harmonized and contiguous spectrum required for deployment of 5G technology. 5G would essentially require large contiguous spectrum block per operator to roll out the new service.
Since the deployment of a new technology is significantly impacted by the global deployments, spectrum harmonization (selection of common spectrum bands globally) becomes very essential to help India gain greater economies of scale, reduce interference across borders, and enable roaming, which would in turn result in increased customer acquisition.
In India, earlier, only 2.400-2.4835 GHz and 5.825-5.875 GHz were unlicensed bands for indoor and outdoor use of low power equipment. Recently, 5150-5250 MHz, 5250-5350 MHz, 5470-5725 MHz and 5725-5875 MHz frequency bands have been included as unlicensed for use in indoor and outdoor environment. The opening of more unlicensed frequencies will facilitate development of 5G ecosystem, the TRAI paper said.
Huawei and other partner telecom companies are awaiting the Indian government’s approval on spectrum allotment. Spectrum allocation in India is being done through auction process and the government is yet to auction the spectrum 3.3K – 3.6K MHz bands. These spectrum (3.5 GHz spectrum) band is expected to be the first band to be globally accepted for 5G deployment.
Over 150 pre-commercial 5G trials are currently operating around the world. Recently in PyeongChang Winter Olympics, South Korea had orchestrated a major 5G network showcase, led by Korea Telecom and multinational corporations such as Samsung, Intel and Ericsson, as per the the Indian government-backed 5G High Level Forum (HLF) report, ‘Making India 5G Ready’,
Also in the United States, telecommunication companies, Verizon and AT&T have been carrying out 5G trials and have plans to launch 5G services in 2019. Further, China and Europe are also following suite, with Europe focused on delivering to high speed vehicular subscribers such as intercity trains and cars on motorways, the report added.
The department’s WPC (Wireless planning & Coordination) wing is also simplifying rules enabling ‘light-touch’ licensing and delicensing of spectrum for broadband proliferation.
TRAI had recommended auction of about 8,644 MHz of telecom frequencies. The 5G committee of the telecom ministry has said about 6,000 Mhz of spectrum can be made available without delay for the next generation mobile service. The panel has identified spectrum for 5G services across 11 bands, of which four bands — premium 700 Mhz band, 3.5 gigahertz (Ghz), 24 Ghz and 28 Ghz band — can be made immediately available for the service.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has been in favour of review of licence fees, spectrum usage charges and the universal service obligation fund levy to enhance the overall ease of doing business.
On whether some of the long-pending suggestions could be taken up now, Sharma said TRAI has already given a number of recommendations to the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) with a view to rationalise the levies in the telecom sector. “I am sure the government will consider them,” he said.
Currently, telecom service providers are required to pay a one-time non-refundable entry fee prior to signing of the licence agreement. Additionally, operators are also under an obligation to pay an annual licence fee which is a percentage of the adjusted gross revenue (AGR); under the unified licence agreement, the licence fee currently is 8 per cent of the AGR.
The telecom service providers also pay spectrum-related charges, including payment for allotment and use of spectrum.
India has not yet conducted any field trials but the Huawei had reportedly been working with Indian telecommunication companies to setup 5G field trials, which are expected to happen in the second half of 2019.
Earlier in 2018, another telecommunication company, Ericsson had installed the first public access 5G test bed at IIT Delhi in 2018, as per Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI)’s white paper on ‘Enabling 5G in India’.Function of a test bed is to facilitate transparent, and replicable testing of new technologies.
According to 5G HLF report, 5G network is expected to be launched in India by 2020 and is predicted to create a cumulative economic impact of $1 Tn in India by 2035. Also, Ericsson estimated that 5G enabled digitalisation revenue potential in India will be above $ 27 Bn by 2026. GSMA Intelligence projected that post the launch of 5G network in 2020, 5G connections in India will grow to almost 70 Mn by 2025, which is equivalent to around 5% of total connections, excluding cellular internet of things (IoT).