India to meet global tech, satellite majors to discuss spectrum roadmap

spectrum roadmap India
Image by Andrey Suslov |

India will meet US-based technology companies Google, Apple, Facebook, Intel and Qualcomm, and satellite companies like OneWeb to discuss the roadmap for spectrum allocation for the next 10 years.

“A virtual meeting will be chaired by the telecom secretary to discuss possible changes required in current spectrum allocations, frequency bands (that) should be considered for 5G and other uses and a roadmap for use of radio frequency spectrum in India during the next 10 years,” the department’s wireless planning cell (WPC) said in a notice on Monday evening.

The country’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and the telecom regulator (Trai) will also meet industry stakeholders including telecom and technology lobby groups, telecom equipment makers along with the Department of Space (DoS), and various other ministries, as per an official circular issued by the DoT’s wireless planning and coordination Wing (WPC) on Monday evening.

The DoT will organise the first meeting on January 6, and local representatives of Broadband India Foundation (BIF), GSMA, Global Suppliers Association (GSA), ITU APT Foundation of India (IAFI) and Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) will attend the meeting.

The meeting will also be attended by US-based technology companies and Nokia, Ericsson, Samsung, and Chinese handset brand Motorola.

The COAI represents telecom operators — Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea — and multinational telecom gear vendors in India. BIF, on the other hand, represents technology majors and satellite companies.

Interestingly, the department hasn’t invited Chinese gear vendors Huawei and ZTE following the Indian government’s recent move to declare a list of ‘trusted sources’ for buying gear for telecom networks, which is aimed at keeping Chinese companies out of India’s future telecom expansion.

India hasn’t formally issued any order discouraging Huawei and ZTE participation in India’s 4G and 5G networks.

The second meeting is scheduled to take place on January 7. Those expected to participate include Global Satellite Coalition (GSC), Inmarsat, Hughes and Bharti-backed OneWeb. Directors of Indian Institute of Technology (IITs), telecom standards body and lobby groups for local gear vendors will meet the department on January 8.

The telecom department will also deliberate spectrum issues with the country’s home ministry, railways ministry along with civil and shipping ministry on January 11. This will be followed by another meeting on January 12 with the Ministry of Space, Department of Space and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

“…discussions with industry stakeholders on a 10-year spectrum roadmap and examining potential 5G bands and their availability is a critical need, especially if the government is serious about auctioning 5G airwaves later this year…in that sense, the meeting is well-timed,” a senior industry executive was quoted as saying by the Economic Times.

Interestingly, Indian telcos had recently asked the government authorities to provide a clear roadmap for auctioning spectrum. They complained about insufficient spectrum in the mid-band, which has been earmarked for 5G services in the country.

The Indian telecom industry had recently raised concerns over the continuing delay at the government end in revising the National Frequency Allocation Plan (NFAP-2018) more than a year after the International Telecom Union (ITU) had identified multiple new airwave bands for global 5G deployments, including in India.

The Economic Times reported that Indian telcos would urge the telecom department to revise the NFAP-2018 and include the new 5G spectrum bands approved by the ITU, including the coveted 26 GHz millimetre spectrum band.

India’s NFAP is the central policy roadmap that defines future spectrum usage by all stakeholders, including the Department of Telecommunications, the Department of Space and the Ministry of Defence.

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