Internet Service Providers Want 5G Spectrum; Urge India To Allow Them To Participate In Auctions


Internet service providers want India to change rules to allow them to become 5G service providers using commercial spectrum. They can enable use cases like fixed wireless access and high-speed broadband services using mmwave and E and V bands, their representative body ISPAI said.

“With the mmwave spectrum around 300-400 internet service providers can be facilitated who then can offer services like fixed wireless access (FWA) broadband to households and enterprises,” ISPAI representative told the Department of Telecommunications at the recent spectrum allocation meeting.

The internet service provider’s body said eligibility to bid for 5G shouldn’t be limited to only a handful of telecom operators.

India’s telecom sector, in the efforts of enabling policies including more quantum of the spectrum, is set to establish new benchmarks in the next-generation network deployments and service delivery.

“…reserve price in 26-28 bands should be kept low so that ISPs can also participate in 5G auctions. The eligibility to bid for 5G shouldn’t be limited to telcos. There could be new 5G ISPs in India that can offer broadband services,” ISPAI said.

The internet service provider’s body also urged the DoT to give spectrum in 6GHz and E & V bands to smaller internet service providers. “Spectrum in these bands shouldn’t be put in the 5G kitty. It is being done in other markets like the US. Smaller ISPs can do it if the government is serious.”

The body said that the government should focus on achieving the broader vision for connectivity than focus on making money through licensed bands. “Government is not to make profits but to serve profits to communities. With the pandemic, internet and broadband services are very important in the country. You require infrastructure and for Wi-Fi, spectrum is the key infrastructure.” ISPAI representative said.

Global tech giants such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Apple and Amazon amongst others also urged the government must quickly open up key 5G spectrum in the 6 Ghz and V bands to ring in unlicensed technologies like WiFi-6 that offer 5G-like speeds for driving mass broadband penetration in rural India at affordable rates.

Indian telcos are opposing the demand, saying such a move, if allowed, would enable these global tech giants, who don’t hold a telecom license, to offer fast internet connectivity at 5G-like speeds to potentially over a billion people at a fraction of the cost, destroying the business case for 5G mobile broadband services in India.

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