According to local press reports, India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is set to earmark additional 5G spectrum bands in the run-up to the next auction. The question, however, is, which ones will be added?
The announcement will no doubt delight operators who have been calling for the offer of more airwaves for 5G, given the beneficial effect that extra supply of spectrum could have on rollout prices.
An updated National Frequency Allocation Plan (NFAP), including the extra bands for commercial 5G services, is due out shortly. It will outline available spectrum bands and the services mobile operators can use them for. However, other potential uses will also be covered including satellite operations under the Department of Space (DoS).
The DoS in particular has been arguing with telecom operators over who gets spectrum, notably at 26 and 28GHz.
The DoS has suggested that allocation of airwaves in the 26GHz band for 5G services could cause interference between satellite and 5G mobile networks, something operators do not accept.
The new NFAP will serve as a reference document for the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to consult on all available 5G spectrum bands and their pricing, an undertaking that needs to be complete before the next auction, although there is as yet no clear indication when that will take place.
So which bands will be included? Mid-band spectrum in the 3.3-3.6 GHz bands is already on the table for 5G services. Operators would like to see millimetre wave included, as it could enable ultra-fast wireless broadband services.
A move in this direction by the DoT could make the auctions much more attractive, though high spectrum prices may yet undermine any positive spin the DoT puts on the enhanced spectrum offerings.