Cellular Operators Association in favour of auctioning satellite spectrum

Ayushi Kar Mumbai | Updated on July 15, 2021

If telecom service providers are paying for spectrum, so should Satcom operators, says Director General

Cellular Operators Association in India is opposing Sunil Mittal on the issue of auctioning spectrum for satellite-based broadband services in the country.

“Both satellite and terrestrial spectrum need to be auctioned. If telecom service providers are paying for spectrum, so should Satcom operators when they are providing the same commercial use case,” Lt. General SP Kochhar, Director General COAI told BusinessLine.

OneWeb platform

Recently, Sunil Mittal had said that there was no need to auction satellite spectrum. Mittal is set to launch satellite-based broadband services in India through the OneWeb platform. Other global players including Jeff Bezos’ Project Kuiper and Ellon Musk’s Star Link are also looking to enter the market with their own satellite platforms. However, terrestrial mobile operators want Satcom players to acquire their spectrum through auctions.

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COAI, in which Bharti Airtel is also a member, contends against Satcom player’s refusal to share the 28 Mhz spectrum band. “This is a spectrum band for Internet of Things. If anyone wants to be refusing it, it should be the telecom operators, we would have preferred to have the whole band up to 29Mhz, however, we are willing to make do till 28.5Mhz,” he said.

5G services

On the commercial rollout of 5G services, he said that it is likely to happen before Independence Day next year. “Auctions will happen as planned early next year once the trials are over,” said Kochhar. COAI also wants the 5G spectrum pricing to be revised. “Government sees that there is not a right environment for these prices.If the government does not get it right, a lot of spectrum will remain unused, as was the case with 4G auctions,” Kochhar said

He also said that in order for the homegrown standard 5Gi to be incorporated into network solutions, it needs to be internationally compatible with the 3GPP standards. 5Gi is a standard developed by the Indian Institute of Technology and is being pushed by the Centre as part of the ‘Make in India’ campaign.

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On the adoption of Open RAN platforms, Kochhar believes that operators will employ a mix of network solutions, with some coming from open-source platforms and others purchased from traditional vendors. O-RAN are new industry standards for the Radio Access Network supplier ecosystem that enables more vendors to participate in the network solutions space, which until now was led by a handful of players. With the hardware and software technologies for this becoming standardised and open source, many new entrants from India have entered the space to develop products that cater to some part of the whole operator network.

Published on July 15, 2021

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