Government can skip auction of 27.5-28.5 GHz spectrum band, leave it to satellite companies

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According to official sources, the government cannot auction off the frequency range of spectrum between 27.5 and 28.5 gigahertz and leave it to satellite services.

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) had recommended a base price for this frequency range and suggested that it could be used for both mobile and satellite services.

Two official sources have acknowledged that the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is considering auctioning spectrum only up to 27.5 Ghz, as sharing between the two services is difficult.

”Trai also understands that it is difficult for 5G and satellite transmitters to work side by side. We are moving forward with an auction up to 27.5 Ghz only,” an official source said.

The official said the government was investigating whether Earth Stations in Motion (ESIM) could be licensed in the 27.5-28.5 Ghz band, which is available for in-flight and maritime connectivity, but in the meantime it there are no plans to auction this frequency range.

A senior DoT official said there were multiple views within the department and nothing was final yet.

“The Digital Communications Commission (DCC) will take a call on this. He will send the reference back to Trai and, based on Trai’s response, CDC will confirm his point of view. The final decision will be made by Cabinet. DCC will only report its recommendation to Cabinet. Nothing is definitive yet. Everything is flowing,’ the officer who did not wish to be named told PTI.

An email query sent to the DoT elicited no immediate response. Trai has come up with a mega auction plan valued at over Rs 7.5 lakh crore at base price across multiple bands for radio waves allocated over 30 years.

The regulator has recommended that the millimeter wave spectrum between 24.25 and 28.5 Ghz be used for capacity needs, its deployment is unlikely to be ubiquitous, but rather a sort of hotspot or urban microcell.

Therefore, he suggested that mobile service stations and satellite earth station gateway (Earth-to-space) can coexist in the frequency range 27.5-28.5 GHz.

“The satellite earth station gateway should be allowed to be established in the 27.5-28.5 Ghz frequency range in uninhabited or remote locations on a case-by-case basis, where there is less likelihood of services IMT 5G is coming,” Trai had said.

Telecoms Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said the auction, which will pave the way for 5G services in the country, is likely to take place in early June and the services are expected to be rolled out by August to September this year.

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