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Auctioning 5G spectrum bands

Auctioning 5G spectrum bands

In News

Recently, the Union Cabinet gave its nod for the auction of spectrum that can be used to offer 5G services.

About the News

  • A total of 72 Ghz of spectrum with a validity period of 20 years will be put on sale during the auction planned towards the end of July, 20222.

  • The auction will be held for spectrum in various Low (600 MHz, 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz), Mid (3300 MHz) and High (26 GHz) frequency bands.
  • It is expected that the Mid and High band spectrum will be utilised by telecom service providers (TSPs) to roll-out 5G services wherein speeds would be 10 times higher than 4G services.
  • Government has reserved a portion of airwaves for captive private networks, a proposal opposed by telecom service providers.
  • As per a report by a government panel on 5G, even after the entry of 5G into the Indian networks, the earlier generation mobile technologies — 2G, 3G and 4G, will continue to remain in use and may take 10 or more years to phase out.
  • 5G is expected to create a cumulative economic impact of $1 trillion in India by 2035.

Concerns raised against the Auctions

  • High reserve prices for the spectrum: While the TRAI had recommended reducing prices of airwaves across various bands by 35-40% from its earlier proposed base price, the telecom operators had expressed disappointment given their demand for a 90% cut in the prices.
    • The government has accepted the recommendations given by TRAI to reserve prices for spectrum auctions.
  • Direct allotment of spectrum for Captive Private Networks: The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has expressed that this provision will severely degrade the business case of Telecom Service Providers (TSPs).
    • This stems from their concern that 5G technology has more industry use cases than individual consumers. So, telcos worry that providing industries 5G spectrum allocation to set up private networks will diminish their own revenue from the next generation of cellular services.

 What are captive private networks and why do they need spectrum bands?

  • Private wireless networks are cellular networks built specifically for individual enterprises. These networks are often deployed at a single unit, for example, a factory or to monitor a mine in real-time.
    • Airports and ports can also have their own private 5G cellular network to process imaging data coming from surveillance cameras to manage the facility.
  • The key reason for its high scale adoption is the need for greater data privacy and security. Unlike unlicensed Wi-Fi service available in several private places, licensed spectrum bands offer greater data privacy, security and faster connection speeds.
  • The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has said that private firms can set up a 5G network by either getting a slice of the public network from a licensed telecom company, establishing an isolated on-premise network from the telecom service provider’s spectrum, or obtaining spectrum directly from the Department of Telecom or by sub-leasing it from telcos.

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