Telecom operators and Doordarshan are reportedly involved in a tussle regarding a premium spectrum band that can be used for providing 5G services.

While the government had already identified the 3.3-3.6 GHz band for 5G services, it is trying to identify more spectrum bands for the purpose and has selected the 470-698 MHz band. However, the public broadcaster currently uses this spectrum for beaming television channels to smartphones and laptops in 16 cities with its digital terrestrial tv (DTT) transmitters. The company began its DTT services in 2016 and is now keen on expanding it to 630 locations.

Therefore, Doordarshan wants to retain the band for telecasting directly to phones, while telcos believe that it can be put to better use for offering 5G services. Further, operators believe that lower frequency bands such as the 470-698 MHz band offer airwaves that can travel larger distances and save costs of setting up towers and other infrastructure.

In a bid to resolve the issue, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has asked the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) to submit its views on the suggested use and pricing of these airwaves, which have not been used for mobile communications so far. The move follows a meeting of DoT’s 5G Implementation Oversight Committee, which was also attended by officials from DoT and academics held on Jul 4, 2019.

The COAI has started compiling a paper on how global telecom markets are utilising these bands and their pricing. It will soon submit its findings to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).