The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has released recommendations on ‘Spectrum Requirements of National Capital Region Transport Corporation (NCRTC) for Train Control System for Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS) Corridors’.

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT), through its letter dated November 29, 2021, had sought TRAI to furnish its recommendations on administrative assignment of spectrum to NCRTC and the quantum, pricing/charging thereof and any other terms and conditions, for separate spectrum requirements of NCRTC in 700 MHz band, as well as any other recommendations deemed fit for the purpose, including assignment of the same spectrum for other RRTS/ metro rail network pan-India.

In this regard, a consultation paper on ‘Spectrum Requirements of NCRTC for Train Control System for RRTS Corridors’ was issued by TRAI on June 9, 2022. Comments from 20 stakeholders and counter comment from one stakeholder were received. An open house discussion was held on August 25, 2022, through virtual mode.

Based on the comments, the regulatory body has recommended that 5 MHz of 5G airwaves in the 700 MHz band be assigned to NCRTC through the administrative route for use in RRTS corridors along railway tracks. The frequency spectrum to be assigned to NCRTC, shall be adjacent to the frequency spectrum assigned to Indian Railways in 700 MHz band.

Further, TRAI has suggested that the frequency spectrum assigned to NCRTC may also be assigned to other RRTS/metro rail networks, which are geographically separated and not likely to cause any interference with one another. To ascertain the feasibility of assigning the same frequency spectrum (assigned to NCRTC and other RRTS/metro rail networks) to the telecom service providers (TSPs) on a non-interference basis, a field trial may be conducted involving the Ministry of Railways and the TSPs, under the supervision of DoT. In addition, to ascertain the feasibility of radio access network (RAN) sharing, a field trial of RAN sharing through multi-operator core networks (MOCN) may be conducted by the Ministry of Railways involving Indian Railways and NCRTC, under the supervision of DoT.

Additionally, TRAI has recommended that a separate category of permission/license for captive non-public network for railway networks (CNPN-R) may be created. However, the permission/licensing regime for CNPN-R may be kept very simple and light touch.

In its recommendations, TRAI has also suggested that the 700 MHz spectrum be assigned to NCRTC for 10 years instead of the 20-year allotment tenure for private carriers. With regard to spectrum charging mechanism, the auction determined price for 10 years allocation should be equal to 0.5 times the auction determined price discovered in the latest 5G spectrum auction for 700 MHz spectrum band for the respective licensed service area (LSA). The auction determined price of the respective LSAs through which the RRTS/metro rail network passes should be used as a benchmark, adjusted for the corridor area relative to the total geographical area of a particular LSA on a pro-rata basis. In order to design a clear road-map, TRAI suggested that a similar methodology shall be applicable to other RRTS/metro rail networks as well as for existing RRTS/metro rail networks, in case of future spectrum requirement. The payment terms shall be flexible providing options of full upfront payment, part upfront payments as well as equal annual instalments.