ITU member body seeks opening of E band for 5G backhaul, V band for wi-fi

PTI, Feb 27, 2022, 12:32 PM IST

Image credit: Vertigo3D / Getty Images

New Delhi: ITU APT Foundation of India has written to Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw to open the high-frequency range of E band for supporting 5G network and delicensing V band for wi-fi services as part of the next phase of telecom reforms.

The second set of telecom reforms is expected to be in place by May. The reforms will focus on ease of doing business, reduce the cost of doing business and promote affordable connectivity across the country.

The non-profit industry body has also recommended delicensing use of 1,100 megahertz spectrum in the 6 GHz frequency range for promoting wi-fi services in the country.

Telecom operators have been demanding allocation of both E and V band spectrum through auction, while other set of internet service providers have sought to delicense of these bands as per sector regulator Trai’s recommendations and global practice.

ITU APT Foundation of India (IAFI), in a letter dated February 24, said the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has been recommending delicensing of the V band since 2015. ”Various economists have pointed out that de-licensing of V band could unleash an unprecedented economic growth and increased GDP. The estimated Economic Value of WiFi in the unlicensed spectrum bands (including V band) in India is expected to be about Rs 12.7 lakh crores (for GDP at current prices) in 2025,” IAFI said.

The industry body said delicensing of the spectrum is the most transparent and equitable way of spectrum allocations and fully in alignment with the Supreme Court judgment in the 2G case. The apex court in 2012 had ruled that spectrum allocation for commercial use should be done at the market-determined price in a fair and transparent manner.

IAFI said delicensing of the 6 GHz band will open new opportunities for innovators and manufacturers to develop products and technologies and also increase opportunities for smart home and industrial products being manufactured in India for export markets.

The 6GHz band is currently extensively used by satellites for uplinking of broadcasting channels as well as by VSAT players for providing data connectivity and is currently not used for mobile operations. The government is yet to open access to E and V bands for the industry.

IAFI said the V band offers a wireless solution that can speedily help meet the aspirations of the PM-WANI (Wi-Fi Access Network Interface) initiative. ”This band has short links lengths due to oxygen absorption characteristics of these frequencies and that makes it almost interference-free and ideal for deploying a large number of short links. We, therefore, recommend urgent delicensing of V band for wifi,” IAFI said.

According to the industry body, spectrum in the E band, which is radiowaves in the 70-80 GHz band, is being used for 5G backhaul services in several countries for connecting mobile tower antennas. ”Automated online licensing for V band for DoT licensed operators is important for expediting the 5G rollout by the mobile operators…We, therefore, recommend the urgent opening of E band for backhaul on an automatic basis only for licensed operators,” IAFI said.

IAFI is recognized as an international/regional telecommunications organization by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).

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