The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has released a consultation paper titled “Assignment of Spectrum for Space-based Communication Services”.
Earlier, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), through its letter dated September 13, 2021, had requested TRAI to provide recommendations on “Auction of spectrum in the frequencies identified for International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) I 5G”. Through the said letter, TRAI was also requested to provide recommendations, inter-alia, on appropriate frequency bands, band plan, block size, applicable reserve price, quantum of spectrum to be auctioned and associated conditions for auction of spectrum for space-based communication services.
In this regard, TRAI sought information/clarifications in respect of space-based communication services from DoT. In response, DoT informed, inter-aIia, that the information in respect of space-based communication services sought by TRAI will take some time; therefore, to avoid delay in 5G roll-out, TRAI may go ahead with consultations/recommendations on issues excluding space-based communication services referred in DoT’s reference dated September 13, 2021 and September 23, 2021. DoT also mentioned that the issues related to space-based communication services may be taken up separately on receipt of information from DoT.
Subsequently, TRAI gave its recommendations to the government on ‘Auction of Spectrum in frequency bands identified for IMT/5G’ on April 11, 2022. Thereafter, DoT through letter dated August 16,2022 provided information with respect to space-based communication services as sought by TRAI.
While providing the requisite information, DoT requested TRAI to provide recommendations on certain additional issues, as mentioned below:
(a) TRAI, through consultations, may assess the demand for space-based communication services and accordingly provide recommendations on the quantum of spectrum in each band required to be put to auction.
(b) It is envisaged to auction the space spectrum on exclusive basis. TRAI may explore feasibility and procedure of sharing auctioned spectrum among multiple service licensees. TRAI may provide recommendations on sharing of auctioned frequency bands between satellite networks and terrestrial networks also, the criteria for sharing and appropriate interference mitigation techniques for sharing and coexistence.
(c) In frequency bands 27.5-28.5 GHz (identified for IMT) and 28.5-29.5 GHz (being studied for captive non-public networks), TRAI may recommend mechanism for sharing of auctioned frequency bands in which both IMT/ CNPN and satellite-based services (both user terminal and Gateways) can be provided in a flexible manner.
(d) Since the service providers may require spectrum both in user link as well as in feeder link, TRAI may take inputs from the stakeholders and recommend the appropriate auction methodology so that the successful bidder gets spectrum for user link (shared with IMT in flexible) as well as feeder link.
(e) In addition, TRAI is requested to provide any other recommendations as deemed fit for the purpose of spectrum auction in these frequency bands, including the regulatory! technical requirements as enunciated in the relevant provisions of the latest ITU-R Radio Regulations.
Subsequently, TRAI sought further information/clarifications, wherein DoT was requested, inter-alia, to clarify that for which kind of licensed services, spectrum for space-based communication has been envisaged to be granted through Auction. In response, DoT, through the letter dated December 16 ,2022, conveyed that TRAI may provide suitable recommendations for each of the space-based communication services after detailed examination. Hence, in the present consultation paper, TRAI has considered all the spectrum bands relevant for space-based communication services as indicated by DoT.
In this regard, a Consultation Paper on “Assignment of Spectrum for Space-based Communication Services”, seeking inputs from stakeholders have been placed on TRAI’s website. In this consultation paper, specific issues have been raised for consideration of stakeholders. Written comments on the issues raised in the Consultation Paper are invited from the stakeholders by May 4, 2023 and counter-comments by May 18, 2023 .