India’s TRAI asks: who gets mmWave?

India’s TRAI asks: who gets mmWave?

Hard on the heels of yesterday’s reports that 5G trials in India may have to continue beyond the planned deadline, thus delaying spectrum auctions, comes news that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has concerns about 5G millimetre wave (mmWave) spectrum.

Following last month’s reference to TRAI from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), seeking fresh base prices for all the 5G bands and a number of 4G bands, the regulator now apparently wants clarity from the DoT around the possible inclusion of mmWave bands – 26GHz and 28GHz – in a key national spectrum policy document.

These airwaves could be useful for both 5G and satellite broadband services, so TRAI wants to know just how much mobile operators will have to work with. Then, one assumes, it can recommend base prices, something the country’s operators are keen to hear amid worries that previous estimates have been far too high.

Some reports suggest that, confusingly enough, mmWave bands have not yet been included in the National Frequency Allocation Plan (NFAP), a central policy roadmap that defines future spectrum usage by all bodies in the country.

As we have reported a number of times, satellite communications companies (which could include SpaceX, Viasat and other giants) are not keen to share airwaves in the 28GHz band, which, along with 26GHz, is seen by mobile operators as an important part of delivering affordable 5G mobile broadband services in India.

However, given what is likely to be a strong role in India for satellite internet in rural areas, and continuing delays to 5G spectrum auctions, this is an issue that may not be resolved for some while.

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