GSMA has written to the Ministry of Communication to timely identify spectrum in the 6 GHz frequency range for International Mobile Telecommunication (IMT)/5G in India and at regional and international platforms such as the Asia-Pacific Conference Preparatory Group (APG) and World Radiocommunication Conferences (WRC) 2023.

In a letter to Ashwini Vaishnaw, Union Minister of Communications, Electronics and Information Technology and Railways, Jeanette Whyte, head, Public Policy, APAC, GSMA has highlighted that India is one of the largest and fastest-growing digital economies in the world, and mobile lies at the heart of India’s digital ambitions. Decisions at the upcoming WRC-23 will set the spectrum foundations for 5G expansion and pave the way for future generations of mobile technologies. The importance of spectrum across various spectrum ranges is one of the main pillars of the “Bharat 6G Vision” unveiled by the Prime Minister. She added that by securing more spectrum for IMT at WRC-23, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) can demonstrate India’s digital leadership and provide the best possible platform towards achieving India’s digital ambitions.

Further, Whyte said that the future availability of mid-band spectrum will be the subject of discussion at WRC-23 as part of Agenda Item 1.2 which includes potential IMT identification of the 6425-7025 MHz frequency range in region 1 and 7025-7125 MHz in all regions. While AI 1.2 only mentions 6425-7025 MHz for Region 1, the results impact the use of the band for IMT all over the world as this band can play a central role in sustainable social and industrial development such as in sectors like manufacturing, education and healthcare. Identification of the 6 GHz band (6425-7125 MHz) for IMT can help broaden harmonisation among countries interested in deploying IMT in this band, improving scale and scope for the IMT ecosystem in this band.

The GSMA estimates that during the 2025-2030 timeframe, the total spectrum demand for mid-bands will be on average 2 GHz per market to fulfil the ITU requirements for IMT-2020. A study by Coleago, for 36 cities around the world, including India, analysed mid-band spectrum needs and found that amount of mid-band spectrum capacity required for India is likely to exceed 2 GHz. As per GSMA, many countries in Asia Pacific including India, are facing a mid-band spectrum deficit. This has led to various governments increasing their mid-band spectrum assignments even beyond those in the ITU’s Radio Regulations. The timely availability of 6 GHz range will drive cost-efficient network deployment, lower the broadband usage gap and support digital inclusion.

Whyte noted that positive steps by DoT to support the 6 GHz band (6425-7125 MHz) for IMT during the upcoming APG will benefit billions of people around the world by delivering affordable and sustainable mobile growth while also securing the future spectrum needs of the mobile industry in India. The 6th meeting of the APG for WRC-23 (APG23-6) will be held in Brisbane, Australia, during August 14-19, 2023. This will be the final APG meeting before WRC-23 and the deadline for submission of contributions to the APG23-6 meeting from administrations is August 07, 2023.

To this end, GSMA has requested the DoT to support the 6 GHz band (6425-7125 MHz) for IMT at regional and international platforms such as APG23-6 and WRC-23 through the identification of 7025-7125 MHz for IMT globally, and identification of 6425-7025 MHz for IMT through a country footnote.