More spectrum needed say Indian operators

More spectrum needed say Indian operators

As we suggested yesterday, fast growth in Indian data usage has started to put pressure on mobile networks.

As we reported, a number of Indian operators and fixed broadband service providers are offering new plans to provide for the sudden spurt in demand caused by many end users either working from home or finding themselves in self-isolation during the Coronavirus outbreak. Now, according to Indian press reports, the spurt in usage has led telecommunications operators to request additional spectrum urgently from government, albeit on a temporary basis.

In a letter to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), industry grouping the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has demanded additional spectrum both for “access and backhaul microwave”.

The association has also asked the DoT for quicker permission for tower enhancement from states and for permission for sign up customers digitally rather than requiring physical documentation, given a sharp rise in potential new subscribers.

As we have already mentioned, India has only 19 million fixed broadband users compared to 630 million for 3G and 4G. Fixed broadband operators are already offering new customers extras like no charging for installation and free speed upgrades. BSNL is apparently offering broadband free of charge for one month to existing customers. But cellular operators are still likely to face the most pressure in the coming weeks or months.

In this climate it’s no surprise that demand is starting to pressurise supply.

Indian press reports suggest that the DoT certainly has the spectrum – and that operators may need it: even though estimates suggests that operators have been working at 60 to 65 per cent of capacity recently, traffic levels are undoubtedly rising.

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