ITU-APT Foundation of India (IAFI) appreciated the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI’s) 5G spectrum recommendations to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT). IAFI also appreciates the TRAI’s open consultative process and the detailed analysis that has been well documented and presented in their recommendation.

Commenting on the TRAI recommendations, Bharat Bhatia, president, IAFI, said that he is extremely pleased with 50 per cent cut in the reserve price for 700 MHz band and the 35 per cent reserve price of mid-band 5G spectrum in the 3.3-3.7 GHz band from the previous TRAI recommendations. However, even now the reserve prices are much higher than what IAFI had recommended in our comments to the TRAI consultation.

He further added that the IAFI is also pleased with TRAI’s acceptance of our proposal for Option B1 for the new 600 MHz of 40+40 MHz, an IAFI recommendation that was already accepted by the APT – Asia Pacific Telecommunity, the Asia Pacific regional telecom organization at its 29th AWG meeting in March, 2022. It may be recalled that the IAFI was leading the regional consultations among the Asian countries to finalise a harmonised band plan for the APT and had recommended that the option B1be the APT band plan for this new 600 MHz band.

IAFI is also pleased that the TRAI recommendation to auction the new 40+40 MHz spectrum in 600 MHz APT band along with 30+30 MHz in 700 MHz APT band is expected to provide enough UHF spectrum for the mobile operators. These two bands are crucial for the rollout of 4G/5G services in rural and sub-urban areas as well as to enhance indoor coverage in major cities and are expected to resolve many call drop issues. However, IAFI would have liked the 600 MHz band reserve price to be somewhat lower than that of 700 MHz due to extensive ecosystem availability for the 700 MHz 3GPP band 28.

IAFI also welcomes the recommendation to create necessary enabling provision for the enterprises to obtain 4G/5G spectrum on lease from telecom service providers (TSPs) or to obtain the spectrum directly from the government and establish their own ‘Captive Wireless Private Network’ (CWPN) for which an online portal-based regime for acquiring permission/license for CWPN has been recommended. IAFI also welcomes the suggestion of earmarking 40 MHz each in 3700-3800 MHz band 4800-4990 MHz for private captive network. IAFI is actively working on CWPN in ITU-R and APT – AWG.

Further IAFI also welcomes the proposal of TRAI to reduce the mid band prices to 35 per cent. However, these are still two to five times higher than in other countries such as UK, Germany and Korea and would like to request DoT to further reduce the same by about 50 per cent.