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More studies are needed for the use of 6 GHz and no decision for the time being, officials say | News – Business standard

While telecom operators have called for urgent freeing up of the 6GHz band for 5G-based mobile broadband communications, the government is not keen on taking a decision on the issue for now, telecom department officials said.

Instead, it needs more time to study the impact of allocating the precious spectrum band for international mobile telecommunications (IMT) or Wi-Fi usage, she added.

The 6 GHz band represents the largest block of unused spectrum and is being contested by telecom and technology companies due to its significant potential for 5G connectivity and Wi-Fi expansion.

It is a specific frequency range from 5.925 GHz to 7.125 GHz, which is a mid-band frequency range.

In December, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), a United Nations specialized agency for information and communications technologies of which India is a part, set aside 6.425-7.125GHz for licensed mobile operations.

The decision was taken at the 10th World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-23), which is held every three four years to review and revise international agreements on the use of radio spectrum.

Considering that the WRCs are held every four years under the auspices of the ITU, India has ample time to solidify its position on the matter, an official said. “We have informed the global body of our position that the matter should be assessed more carefully,” he stressed.

However, telecom operators have urged greater urgency.

The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), which counts Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea among its members, has argued that at least 1200 MHz of spectrum should be allocated for mobile communications in India.

Currently, only 720 MHz is available in the mid-band in India.

In its submission to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), Jio has said that the entire band should be reserved for IMT so that around 300-400 megahertz is available to each of the telecom service providers (TSPs) for the growth of 5G and its introduction of 6G services.

The Broadband India Forum (BIF), which represents major tech giants such as Google, Meta and Microsoft and telecom equipment makers such as Ericsson, Cisco and Huawei, has urged that the license for the 6GHz mid-band be revoked, thereby opening it up in the future for Wi-Fi. India.

A long way forward

A letter from the GSM Association (GSMA), the global association of mobile operators, to Telecom Minister Ashwani Vaishnaw during the last WRC had hinted that India was against mandating 6 GHz for IMT, Business Standard reported in December 2023 .

The letter from GSMA Director General Mats Granryd said that India will benefit if 6GHz is reserved for 5G and 6G use. He added that it should not oppose ongoing efforts by other countries to reach consensus on the use of the band worldwide.

“We would, however, like to respectfully seek your intervention and support in instructing the Indian delegation at WRC-23 not to oppose the efforts of other countries to find a consensus approach for the tyre. This will allow the 6 GHz equipment ecosystem to develop. that Indian operators and manufacturers can leverage,” the report said.

However, officials argued that India should discuss the latest ITU decision with its fellow regional council members. After each WRC, a body is nominated in each country to invite comments from interested parties, creating the national strategy. This is then presented to the regional council, which deliberates on the matter until a consensus is reached over the next four years.

“For the Asia-Pacific region, of which India is a part, the ITU has given certain policy formulations for 6GHz that may not be followed in the rest of the world. China also has the same council. So it will take time to find a consensus,” said a telecom official.

Global precedents

Globally, the United States’ move to make the entire 6 GHz band available for unlicensed use has created a trend in many countries such as Brazil and Saudi Arabia. On the other hand, China will use the entire 1200 MHz in the 6 GHz band for 5G, while Europe has split the band, with the upper part eligible for 5G and a new 500 MHz tranche available for Wi-Fi.

In September last year, Trai acknowledged that the lower end of the 6 GHz spectrum band can be allocated for unlicensed uses such as Wi-Fi, while the upper end is licensed for IMT. This was said to be in line with global precedents.

It also noted that India has far less spectrum for unlicensed use than other major economies.

First print: February 25, 2024 | 8:59 PM IST