5G spectrum: Trai to take a call on private networks


Trai will decide the allocation of the spectrum to the non-telecom operators. That comes under the light of the fact that the 5G network will initiate the era of private networks.

Through auctions or administratively, the issue of spectrum allocation to set up private networks will be decided by Trai. It would be decided when the body sets down its recommendation on reserve price for 5G spectrum auctions.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India is expected to submit its recommendation by March.

As the new spectrum would bring in an era of private networks, the regulators have asked opinions from telecom operators and other stakeholders on licensing the bandwidth. The new use is providing services other than direct services to consumers.

By other services, it means usage in industries in the form of automation of manufacturing lines, monitoring and control of assets, reducing security risks, protecting employees from danger etc.

The issue becomes significant since the spectrum is on the edge of a tussle between telecom operators and non-telecom firms in allowing the setting up of private networks.

The demand from non-telecom firms to set up their private networks arose because of the capabilities of the spectrum. As mentioned earlier, it will help from office automation to machine-to-machine communications but on a larger scale.

They also find it necessary to establish it for communication in their internal networks. That will also allow them to set up their Wi-Fi network in contrast to traditional methods of taking the services from other telecom service providers.

But in the case of external communication, they have to depend on the services of another telecom operator.

To set up a private network company would need a 5G spectrum. The tussle would be on the allocation of it. So far, the telecom operators have opposed the administrative allocation of the spectrum to private companies.

These opponents want it to be auctioned for those enterprises who want to use it for said uses.

As per sources, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India may reserve a 25 MHz spectrum in 3400 MHz-3425 MHz band for private networks all over India. But this would not cover the five areas where ISRO is using it.

According to telecom operators, all spectrums should be auctioned, including to the private non-telecom firms who are using it to set up their private network.

But independent analysts have said that as private networks are similar to an intranet kind of network, auctioning the spectrum will not be practical.

The right way is, provide spectrum on a fixed charge to those firms interested in setting up private networks.

The charge for such should then be determined by the Trai and DoT.

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