The Broadband India Forum (BIF) is unhappy over the Digital Communications Commission’s decision to reject telecom regulator TRAI’s recommendation to allow spectrum allocations to enterprises for private 5G networks, and is looking to the Indian Cabinet to overturn the decision.
The BIF, which represents Cisco, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Facebook-owner Meta, Qualcomm and Intel among others, said that TRAI’s call to allow enterprises to acquire spectrum through the administrative process is “most appropriate”. The BIF also says private 5G networks by enterprises would boost employment opportunities and business and translate into greater economic output and benefits.
However, Indian telecom operators like Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea had opposed the move, arguing that it will dramatically alter the industry dynamics, kill the 5G business case in India and hurt the financial health of the industry rather than improve it.
The DCC – an inter-ministerial panel with the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) secretary as its chairman – last week accepted telcos’ demand to disallow reserving spectrum for captive usage by enterprises.
T V Ramachandran, president of BIF told the Economic Times that DCC’s decision not to allow the captive use of spectrum “would be a huge setback to India’s broader ambitions of digitalising its industry, healthcare systems, logistics hubs, agriculture processes or even leveraging its current geopolitical advantage to transform its manufacturing abilities to global levels.”
He expects the Cabinet to take a “well-considered decision” on the issue.
Last month, French IT company Capgemini and Finnish telecom gear maker Nokia supported reserving 5G spectrum for captive usage by enterprises.
Capgemini said that such a move will give companies “better control” over their plans and operations and reduce their dependence on telecom operators. Nokia said that it was ready to tap the 5G private networks-related opportunity with Indian enterprises.
Indian FMCG conglomerate ITC and the National Association of Software and Service Companies (Nasscom), which represents Indian IT services companies, also demanded the government to release spectrum for captive use.
“Greater control over network design and spectrum management are crucial enablers for the success of NPNs across a diverse and constantly evolving set of end-use requirements. Therefore, direct licensing of earmarked spectrum, is likely to enable a greater number of use cases for NPNs, while also providing certainty to enterprises on the availability spectrum access for the duration of the licences,” Nasscom had said.