The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued its response to the reference received from Department of Telecommunications (DoT) regarding its earlier recommendations dated April 11, 2022 on ‘Auction of Spectrum in frequency bands identified for IMT / 5G’.

On April 29, 2022, DoT’s highest-decision making body – Digital Communications Commission (DCC) sought views from the sector regulator on the band sought by space broadband companies administratively.

However, TRAI in its recommendations in April 2022 said that both terrestrial networks and satellite services can co-exist in 28 GHz band. The regulator reiterated that coexistence of satellite earth station gateway (Earth to Space) with IMT has also been recommended in 27.5-28.5 GHz frequency range.

Of late, a Delhi-based satellite communication sought DoT’s intervention against identifying 28 GHz band for next generation services, a controversial view that pitted space broadband players against telecom service providers. Experts believe that any move against auction may be a loss to national exchequer and would end up leaving spectrum largely. TRAI has though already recommended that the entire available spectrum should be put to auction in the forthcoming auction.

Further, TRAI said that any additional spectrum that may become available before the forthcoming auction, should be put to auction. The regulator also said that it had asked for information on spectrum requirements for space applications and since it was taking time, and in order to avoid any delay in rollout of 5G, it has decided to auction 24.25-28.5 GHZ for 5G services.

Through its reference, DoT had, inter-alia, requested TRAI to provide its recommendations on applicable reserve price, band plan, block size, quantum of spectrum to be auctioned and associated conditions for auction of spectrum in 526-698 MHz, 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz, 2500 MHz, 3300-3670 MHz and 24.25-28.5 GHz bands for IMT/5G.

TRAI further notes that the government is already considering assignment of spectrum to Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL)/ Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) for 5G services. Further, as per TRAI, reserving spectrum for BSNL/MTNL is to be decided by the department. The government may have considered that the quantum of spectrum reserved for BSNL, especially in mid-band, is adequate with respect to the use cases of the technology being proposed to be deployed. Meanwhile, it is also desirable that spectrum being reserved for BSNL is put to use at the earliest.

TRAI said that demand assessment is required for option related to enterprises obtaining the spectrum directly from DoT for establishing their own isolated captive wireless private network. Further, it said that the option of leasing of spectrum is essential to meet the demand for private networks. The leasing option can be implemented now itself.