At long last: India enters 5G era as carriers spend $ billions but don’t support 5Gi

After years of 5G auction delays, India became the last major Asian economy to launch a 5G network, marking a new wave of spending by indebted Indian carriers.  Prime Minister Narendra Modi made the first 5G video call on Saturday to school students to demonstrate use of the service in education. “5G is the beginning of an infinite space of opportunities,” especially for the country’s youth, he said.  Well, that has yet to be proven!

Though 5G mobile technology — first introduced in South Korea three years ago — has been viewed by consumers as underwhelming so far because of a dearth of matching applications, local operators led by billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. are betting that will change. They are counting on the nation’s 600 million-plus smartphone users to switch to the new network in due course and also on industries gearing for a digital transformation.

Carriers agreed to fork out $19 billion just two months ago for airwaves at a government auction, with Reliance’s $11 billion bid topping the list. The conglomerate proposes to invest 2 trillion rupees ($25 billion) more. Billionaire Sunil Mittal’s Bharti Airtel Ltd. and Vodafone Idea Ltd. haven’t disclosed their spending plans as yet.

While Reliance raised more than $25 billion from marquee investors in 2020 to help fund digital expansion, the need to spend big on 5G could weigh on the finances of rivals. Bharti and unprofitable Idea have a combined net debt of $37 billion, and the latter staved off bankruptcy by giving 36% of its equity to the Indian government earlier this year in lieu of back fees it couldn’t pay.

At the launch event on Saturday, Ambani said Jio’s 5G network will cover the entire country by December next year, while Mittal said Bharti Airtel plans to do so by 2024. Given the scale of spending, some experts said carriers are unlikely to undercut each other on prices once again — something that was tried in 2016 when Jio entered the market by offering free calls and cheap 4G data plans, which ended up putting some rivals out of business.

“They will likely provide 5G services to those segments of the market that are willing to pay higher and try and recover as much as possible before making it available to others,” said Rajat Kathuria, a senior visiting professor at the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations in New Delhi.

5G’s long road to India has been dogged by several controversies. The main one was about how secure Chinese equipment is — a crucial issue for a country engaged in a border conflict with its northern neighbor. Last year, carriers decided to avoid Chinese vendors such as Huawei Technologies Co. and ZTE Corp., and opted instead to tie up with makers like Ericsson ABNokia Oyj and Samsung Electronics Co., potentially adding to their costs.

“India may have started a little late, but we’ll finish first by rolling out 5G services that are of higher quality and more affordable,” Ambani said at the launch event. The technology can bring affordable, superior education and skill development to ordinary Indians and deliver high-quality healthcare to rural and remote areas, he said.

Despite India’s TSDSI getting 5Gi (5G for India or Low Mobility Large Cell) included in ITU M.2150 (previously known as IMT 2020), no Indian carrier has announced support of it.  That is a major disappointment for TSDSI.  Please refer to the numerous references below.

Offering low latency (that does not meet ITU-R M.2410 URLLC performance requirements) and data speeds about 100 times faster than 4G (depending how close your 5G endpoint is to the cell tower or small cell), the technology may someday have the potential to enable a variety of advanced applications such as holograms, 3D avatars of people in metaverses and telemedicine, in which near-instantaneous transmission of video and data would allow surgeons to operate remotely using a robotic scalpel. So far, such applications have been too slow to evolve. For average users, 5G has mostly meant faster video games and content streaming.

To capitalize on 5G, China has been rolling out smartphone apps and industrial projects such as super high-definition live streaming, remote manufacturing, virtual reality and robotic surgery arms. The country’s three state-owned carriers have introduced more than 25,000 such applications, according to a news article posted by the State Council on its website in August. In South Korea, despite mobile operators’ efforts to come up with killer apps, average revenue per person has only climbed slightly since the 4G era.

In India’s race to roll out 5G, the only winner to emerge so far has been the government: The airwave auction was set to raise a record amount, Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said in July.

Proceeds from the spectrum auction could provide a big financial boost to Modi’s administration, which has been seeking to tame inflation and rein in fiscal deficits as economists warn of a looming global recession.


India’s TSDSI candidate IMT 2020 RIT with Low Mobility Large Cell (LMLC) for rural coverage of 5G services

TSDSI’s 5G Radio Interface spec advances to final step of IMT-2020.SPECS standard

India lagging in 5G unless spectrum prices decrease & 5Gi standard debate is settled

Jio and Airtel against 5Gi standard; 2 GHz of mid-band needed for India 5G demand

India’s Success in 5G Standards; IIT Hyderabad & WiSig Networks Initiatives


RailTel and CloudExtel partner to deploy India’s 1st shared RAN solution

RailTel, a Miniratna Central Public Center Enterprises (CPSU) [1.] of India’s Ministry of Railways and CloudExtel, a known Full Stack Network as a Service (NaaS) Provider have partnered together to launch India’s first shared Radio Access Network (RAN) solution for congested locations with the objective of enhancing telecom users’ experience.

Highlights are as follows:

RailTel and CloudExtel offer shared RAN solutions for seamless connectivity in stressed locations
•  Avg. user speed experience increased 5X to 15 Mbps for both Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea
•  Pilot project launched at Mumbai Central railway station demonstrated a 20% increase in data consumption

Note 1.  Miniratna central public sector enterprises in India are the ones where pre-tax profit incurred by the company is Rs. 30 crores or more in at least one of the three years and they also have a positive net worth eligible to be considered eligible for granting Miniratna status.


RailTel and CloudExtel carried out the successful pilot of this project in partnership with Bharti AirtelVodafone IdeaNokia, and the Telecom Infra Project (TIP)’s NaaS Solutions Group, with vital support from the Railways, in one of the most network stressed locations namely Mumbai Central railway station. The outcomes of the pilot project have been impressive with 5 times increase in average user speed of mobile data (from 3 Mbps to 15 Mbps) for the mobile phone networks of both Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, while the data consumption jumped up by 20%.

Locations specifically like traffic junctions, airports, and railway stations are high-density areas for network congestion. Challenges multiply especially in cities like Mumbai which are densely populated. The success of the shared RAN solution holds promises for the customers of such highly populated and highly crowded areas to have better mobile data usage experience. In the initial phase, the focus will be on extending this technology at more railway stations in Mumbai. Later, more stations may be considered for coverage.

RailTel has so far set up public Wi-Fi hotspots at 5,848 railway stations and has resumed work on network expansion.

Photo credit: Livemint


Aruna Singh, Chairman & Managing Director, RailTel said, “Facilitating seamless connectivity and an enhanced commute experience to passengers at railway stations has been our commitment. The impressive speed and data consumption enabled by Shared RAN has validated our belief in this technology, and we look forward to scaling this in all congested areas serving passengers and telecom operators while reducing the clutter of infrastructure and energy consumption in railway stations”.

Kunal Bajaj, Co-Founder and CEO, CloudExtel said, “The extensive consumption of multimedia-rich content and cloud applications are the new normal and will multiply with 5G offerings. In absence of shared RAN solutions, even 5G performance will get hampered in such congested locations, thus substantially compromising the user experience. Shared RAN solutions will become an architectural foundation for upcoming 5G deployments in the country.”

TIP enables Neutral Host NaaS business model deployments by promoting best practices and supporting market trials to achieve scale. Acknowledging the success of the pilot carried out at Mumbai Central railway station, Mr. David Nowicki, TIP NaaS Solution Group Co-Chair said, TIP applauds CloudExtel’s remarkable achievement of unlocking transformative capacity in one of the world’s most challenging urban environments utilizing a neutral-host NaaS business model. The 5x Quality of Experience improvement demonstrates why this emerging business model should become the standard at urban train stations and similar venues across the globe.

Mr. Vinish Bawa, Head of Emerging Business and Enterprise India at Nokia said, “We are delighted to partner with RailTel and CloudExtel in delivering higher data speeds and a better customer experience to commuters on Mumbai Central railways with our Multi-Operator RAN solution. Nokia also has a long heritage of working closely with major railway operators to bring the benefits of private LTE connectivity and pave the way for the adoption and deployment of Future Railway Mobile Communication Systems (FRMCS). For operators, these solutions bring cost savings and increased flexibility in their infrastructure deployments.

The entire telecom landscape of India has undergone a transformation largely due to cheaper data connectivity and penetration. Network operators are now seeking shared solutions to bring in cost efficiency without compromising on deliverables to end consumers.


About CloudExtel:

CloudExtel is India’s first full-stack Network as a Service (NaaS) provider, reinventing digital infrastructure connectivity with enhanced coverage, capacity & speed. It caters to telecom operators, internet service providers, data centers, enterprises, and large content providers to address the challenges emerging from the hypergrowth of data consumption in India.

CloudExtel is rapidly building scale to enable the densification of 4G networks and to facilitate the transition to 5G, while driving emerging telecom architecture through ‘cloudification’ of networks.

Through its advanced network solutions, the company has enhanced connectivity in network-stressed, high-footfall iconic locations such as the Golden Temple, Varanasi Ghats, Gateway of India, Jalianwala Bagh, National Stock Exchange, Mantralaya Mumbai. CloudExtel caters to 20% of partner-deployed small cell requirements of large Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) through 4000 sites across 300+ towns and districts.

The imminent global shift to Open RAN (O-RAN) and Network Virtualization is expected to redefine the telecom and internet space. CloudExtel is set to leverage this transition. It is the first neutral host to deploy shared RAN in India, one of less than 10 players globally. The success of the shared RAN solution holds promises for the customers of such highly populated and highly crowded areas to have better mobile data usage experience.

About RailTel:

RailTel, a ‘Mini Ratna (Category-I)’ Central Public Sector Enterprise under Ministry of Railways, is one of the largest neutral telecom infrastructure & ICT Solutions & Services providers in the country, owning a Pan-India optic fiber network covering several towns and cities and rural areas of the country.

Along with a strong a reliable network of 61000+ RKM of Optic fibre, RailTel has two MeitY empanelled tier III data centers as well. With its Pan-India high-capacity network, RailTel is working towards creating a knowledge society at various fronts and has been selected for implementation of various mission-mode projects for the Government of India in the telecom field. RailTel offers a bundle of services like, MPLS VPN, Telepresence, leased line, Tower Co-location, Data center services, etc.

RailTel is also working with the Indian Railways to transform railway stations into digital hubs by providing public Wi-Fi at railway stations across the country and 6100+ stations are live with RailTel’s RailWire Wi-Fi.


Bharti Airtel to launch 5G services in India this August; Reliance Jio may follow

After numerous delays, India’s government finally completed its 5G spectrum auction on its seventh day.  5G spectrum worth 1.5 trillion Indian rupees (US $18.99 billion) being sold to the country’s three mobile network operators – Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea – and Adani Group, with Jio emerging as the top bidder, according to media reports.

Bharti Airtel has announced that it has awarded its first 5G contract in the country to Ericsson with 5G deployment to get underway in August 2022. Ericsson is Airtel’s long-standing connectivity partner and pan-India managed services provider, with a partnership spanning more than 25 years. The latest 5G partnership follows the close of 5G spectrum auctions in India. In a statement, Airtel said that it will deploy power-efficient 5G Radio Access Network (RAN) products and solutions from the Ericsson Radio System and Ericsson microwave mobile transport solutions.

The company also signed agreements with Nokia and Samsung to build 5G capacity in India. Under the agreement, Nokia will provide equipment for AirScale portfolio, including modular and scalable baseband as well as high-capacity 5G massive MIMO radios.

Meanwhile, Ericsson will be providing 5G connectivity in 12 circles for Bharti Airtel.  In addition to an enhanced user experience for Airtel customers – spanning ultra-high-speeds, low latency and large data handling capabilities – Ericsson 5G network products and solutions will also enable Bharti Airtel to pursue new, innovative use cases with its enterprise and industry customers, claimed the company.

Bharti Airtel has announced that it has acquired 19,800 MHz spectrum by securing a pan-India footprint of 3.5 GHz and 26 GHz bands. This spectrum bank was secured for a total consideration of Rs 43,084 crore in the latest spectrum auction conducted by the Department of Telecom, Government of India. Airtel acquired 19,867.8 MHz spectrum in 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100MHz, 3300 MHz and 26 GHz frequency bands for Rs 43,084 crore. Airtel has secured 5G spectrum for 20 years in this auction.

Airtel CEO Gopal Vittal, MD and chief executive officer said, “As our trusted, long-term technology partner, we are delighted to award our first 5G contract to Ericsson for 5G deployment in India. “5G presents a game-changing opportunity to drive the digital transformation of industries, enterprises and the socio-economic development of India. With our 5G network, we aim to deliver the full benefits of 5G connectivity, fuel India’s journey towards a digital economy and strengthen the country’s position on the world stage.”

“5G presents a game-changing opportunity to drive the digital transformation of industries, enterprises and the socio-economic development of India. With our 5G network, we aim to deliver the full benefits of 5G connectivity, fuel India’s journey towards a digital economy and strengthen the country’s position on the world stage.”

Börje Ekholm, President and CEO, Ericsson, says: “We look forward to supporting Bharti Airtel with its deployment of 5G in India. With Ericsson’s unrivaled, global 5G deployment experience, we will help Bharti Airtel deliver the full benefits of 5G to Indian consumers and enterprises, while seamlessly evolving the Bharti network from 4G to 5G. 5G will enable India to realize its Digital India vision and foster inclusive development of the country.”

Reliance Jio may also launch 5G in August:

It is likely that arch rival Reliance Jio too may launch the 5G services this month. “We will celebrate ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’ with a pan India 5G rolloutJio is committed to offering world-class, affordable 5G and 5G-enabled services. We will provide services, platforms and solutions that will accelerate India’s digital revolution, especially in crucial sectors like education, healthcare, agriculture, manufacturing and e-governance,” said Akash M Ambani, Chairman, Reliance Jio Infocomm.

However, no disclosure of Jio’s 5G vendor(s) over two years after Ambani said Jio was developing its own “homegrown” 5G network equipment. The Business Standard reports that Jio had selected Samsung to build its pan-India 5G network.



India government wants “home-grown” 5G; BSNL and MTNL will emerge as healthy

The Indian government wants to promote local companies and startups for the development of 5G technology in India, said K Rajaraman, secretary, Department of Telecommunications (DoT).  Rajaraman urged stakeholders to come together to ensure that the required technology stack for 5G is produced within the country.

India must “strongly promote local companies and try and test out various components; we should set up test pilots and do experiments so that we create local champions,” Rajaraman said at a telecom investor’s roundtable in Mumbai. The Telecom Department will act as a matchmaker to ensure that those who have ideas and seek investment are matched with industry players, after the necessary due diligence, said VL Kantha Rao, additional secretary (T), DoT. Calling for early-stage companies and startups to join the upcoming phase in the telecom industry, Rajaraman also urged stakeholders to share their views about what the government needs to do in terms of taking India to a global presence in the telecom sector.

“We expect that the R&D fund from USOF (Universal Service Obligation Fund) will act as a seed fund for bringing in more investment from the industry. C-DOT (Centre for Development of Telematics) has set up a collaborative platform where industry investment can be leveraged to create technology stack which can be used by industry to approach markets,” he said.

Note that over two years ago, Reliance Jio Chairman Mukesh Ambani said it had developed its own 5G solution “from scratch.”  Yet none of that 5G solution has been even trialed, let alone deployed yet.

5G would enable Indian residents to get 100 Mbps speeds on the move, and that the cumulative economic impact of 5G can reach $1 trillion by 2035 in the country. Rajaraman also invited all telecom industry stakeholders to participate in the India Mobile Congress in September to demonstrate the indigenous technologies and market them to foreign investors, adding that there will be a technical session on 6G as well. The government is also looking to radically reform the existing regulatory framework for the telecom industry to encourage investments and advance planning, Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw had said on Thursday.  Vaishnaw had also said that the government was working on a mechanism to provide `500 crore annual R&D support to the industry.

DoT recently floated a consultation paper seeking comments on how to reform the legal framework of telecommunications, to bring it in sync with global developments and changing technologies.


The Indian government said on Saturday that state-owned BSNL (Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd) and MTNL (Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited, Mumbai – a Public Sector Undertaking of the Government of India under the Ministry of  Telecommunications) will emerge as healthy entities after receiving the Rs 1.64-lakh crore revival package approved by the Cabinet, while adding that reforms in the telecom sector – including having a contemporary legal set-up – will continue as the market migrates to 5G networks.

Vaishnaw said BSNL and Vodafone Idea will benefit from reforms  that were handed out to the industry and thus prevent the chances of a duopoly – with Reliance Jio and Airtel being the only telco providers in India. “With the balance sheet of companies getting cleaned up after the September reforms and de-stressing of their operations, most players are now ready for new capex cycles. The banks are also willing to support investments. The industry is also confident,” Vaishnaw told media persons in Mumbai, where he met top investors and private equity players during the day.

Speaking on speculations around duopoly building up, he said the reforms have ensured that every company gets a chance to grow and become healthy. “Duopoly will not happen. Competition is maintained very clearly. The September reforms have resulted in good stability in the industry. We are looking at newer players who want to enter. We will see healthy competition in the sector.” On BSNL, the minister said that the PSU acts as a “market balancer” and will be a stable company. “Clearly, today the industry is stable, and past concerns don’t exist any more.” On the government’s decision to pick up around 33% stake in Vodafone Idea in lieu of the company’s interest liabilities over a period of four years, he said the company will still be managed as an independent entity.


All this talk from Telecom Ministers while India has FINALLY commenced its 5G spectrum auction which is apparently going well.


Govt: Telecom reforms to go on as market migrates to 5G

Reliance Jio claim: Complete 5G solution from scratch with 100% home grown technologies


Adani Group planning to enter India’s long delayed 5G spectrum auction

Indian conglomerate [1.] is believed to be one of the four companies that (on Friday July 8th) has showed interest in the Indian government’s long delayed 5G spectrum auction. The move would expand the conglomerate’s presence to a sector dominated by established wireless telcos – Reliance Jio, Sunil Mittal-controlled Bharti Airtel, and Vodafone Idea Ltd.  

India’s telecom department’s upcoming auction includes the coveted 5G band needed for high-speed wireless internet connectivity. 

Note 1. Adani Group is a diversified organization in India with market cap of over $182.02 billion (as of July 8, 2022) composed of 7 publicly traded companies. It has created a world class transport and utility infrastructure portfolio that has a pan-India presence. Adani Group is headquartered in Ahmedabad, in the state of Gujarat, India. Over the years, Adani Group has positioned itself to be the market leader in its transport logistics and energy utility portfolio businesses focusing on large scale infrastructure development in India with O & M practices benchmarked to global standards. With four IG rated businesses, it is the only Infrastructure Investment Grade issuer in India.


Four independent sources told Business Standard that the  was interested in getting into telecom where it has no experience whatsoever.

Under India’s telecom regulations, the Adani entity would require a unified access service (UAS) permit from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to participate in the 5G airwaves auction.

The four telecom bidders would first have to provide ownership details by July 12th and later a bidder-ownership compliance certificate. After that, there will be a pre-qualification of bidders.  will have the right to withdraw auction applications by July 19 and bidders will be announced the next day. The auction is expected to begin on July 27.

Experts are divided about the possible strategy of the Gautam Adani-led . Some say it is investing heavily in data centres, with a view to making it an enterprise business. It has tied up with international company EdgeConnex for a 50-50 joint venture to build and operate large data centres in Chennai, Navi Mumbai, Noida, Vizag, and Hyderabad.

Adani’s enterprise data business will compete with Indian telecom companies and international tech giants like Amazon and Google. It would be a smart move to buy a limited quantity of millimetre band spectrum — it offers high speed and is relatively cheap – and support it by a small amount of spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band.

Other experts believe the Adani group might be planning to enter into 5G services and compete with established companies before likely acquiring or collaborating with an existing player.

 agency PTI, while quoting unnamed sources, reported that Adani was the fourth applicant in the telecom auction and had obtained National Long Distance (NLD) and International Long Distance (ILD) licences.

Image Credit:  Adani Group



India’s 5G auction delayed again to April-May 2022 – Credibility Gap?

In India: What if Jio, Vi, and Airtel Skip 5G and Focus on 4G?

Telcos worldwide have already spent billions of dollars on setting up infrastructure, permissions, spectrum, and more for 4G and it is also bringing them plenty of revenues. While 5G will open up a whole new revenue stream from the enterprise sector, are the telcos really desperate for it?  India has yet to hold its first 5G auction which has been repeatedly delayed.

Reliance Jio,  Vodafone Idea (Vi), and Bharti Airtel are the only three PAN-India 4G operators in India right now. All the telcos have hundreds of millions of users in their subscriber base to whom they provide 4G network services. There are 2G users as well, but that’s a conversation for another day. Today, what I want to talk about is what if Jio, Vi, and Airtel don’t roll out 5G and just focus on 4G? Note that I very well know this isn’t going to happen. However, I couldn’t help but wonder, what if the telcos just went on with their usual 4G network services and didn’t care about 5G because of the steep spectrum price and the decision of the government to allow the enterprises to get airwaves directly in an administrative manner for captive private networks?

To be very honest, 5G doesn’t seem like the biggest deal-breaker for the telcos right now. From an investor perspective, the kind of expenditure that 5G would entail in 2022, factoring in spectrum price, among other things, doesn’t feel like a very solid option for Jio, Vi, or Airtel. Not to forget, Vi doesn’t even have the capacity to make large investments for 5G in the first place. Expenditure is not the issue; RoI (return on investment) is!

But one thing’s proven for the telecom operators – revenues from 4G networks. They have already spent billions of dollars on setting up infrastructure, permissions, spectrum, and more for 4G, and it is also bringing them plenty of money. While 5G will open up a whole new revenue stream from the enterprise sector, are the telcos really desperate for it? Well, I would argue not, despite fully acknowledging the fact that all the private companies just want to make more money. So, what will happen if the telcos really don’t go for 5G? Let’s take a look at the negatives first.


The most obvious thing would be that consumers won’t get to see 5G anytime this year in any part of the nation. Second, enterprises would be very unhappy as not all of them might be looking to get the airwaves directly for setting up private 5G networks. Third, it would potentially affect the sales of 5G smartphones. Fourth, India will be left even further behind other nations in 5G network technology.


A delayed 5G rollout would mean that more users would start owning 5G smartphones over the long horizon and when telcos do launch 5G, it will be a more than ready market for them to monetise through retail consumers. Second, the industry and the government would get more time to sort through policies and the telcos would get sufficient room to set up a denser infrastructure.

Moreover, the telecom industry can upskill more people with knowledge about technologies such as 5G, AI, ML, and more which are going to be very relevant.

Again, it is unlikely that the telcos will miss out on 5G this year. But even if they do, I don’t think it is that big of an issue both from a consumer and an investor’s point of view. A seamless 4G experience is still something Indian consumers crave for! Hopefully, that is sorted along with the 5G rollout.


What if Jio, Vi, and Airtel Skip 5G and Focus on 4G

India’s 5G spectrum auctions likely to be delayed yet again; Broadband India Forum weighs in

India’s 5G rollout is already behind schedule due to repeated delays (from early 2020) in the 5G spectrum auction.  It now appears that the auction will be delayed even further, resulting in even more delays in 5G rollout. The competing interests of telecom service providers (TSPs) and technology giants seeking private networks appear to have slowed the auctioning of 5G spectrum, causing the delay, according to a recent The Hindu Businessline report. 

The auction was meant to take place in early June, according to India’s Telecom Minister, but there would be a delay because the Cabinet has not yet adapted the TRAI’s plan. Because issuing the notice inviting applications (NIA) and holding stakeholder meetings can take at least 45 days from the date of Cabinet approval, the auction is unlikely to take place in June.

The main reason for the delay is that various industry bodies and tech giants have requested that the captive 5G networks be allocated to them. Despite the fact that 5G private network users’ spectrum allocation has been excluded from the upcoming auction, these players have addressed the government through their representative bodies. They argue that keeping them out of the country will adversely impact the country’s efforts to digitalize its economy and make its products more competitive in the global market.

The Broadband India Forum (BIF), whose members include Amazon, Cisco, Facebook, Google, Intel, Adani, and Reliance, among others, urged the government to provide this spectrum via an administered allocation route at a nominal rate or for free. Furthermore, TRAI recommended allocating 5G spectrum to enterprises for the construction of their own private captive networks, which they day improves industry efficiency.

The BIF urged the Government to provide these spectrum through administered allocation route at some nominal rates or give it for free. “We should think of the country, the consumer…it is the benefit of the consumer, efficiency of the enterprise and finally improvement of the economy. It (spectrum) is strictly for captive usage for improvement of efficiency,” said TV Ramachandran, President at BIF.

He said not only 5G, but captive network can be set up with 4G also, which the industry body has been requesting the government to open up. For instance, airports, ports, hotels and hospitals around the world use captive network to communicate within their campuses, and that gives faster response time, too.

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), in its recommendations, had also said that non-telecom enterprises would be allocated a 5G spectrum for building their private networks.

For captive network, spectrum is assigned to enterprises, is utilized within a limited geographic area. Therefore, it is also referred as spectrum for localized or local use. Spectrum assigned for localised private captive networks is used in such a manner that the signals are restricted within its geographic area and do not cause interference to other outside systems.


India’s 5G auction delayed again to April-May 2022 – Credibility Gap?

India’s Trai: Coexistence essential for efficient use of mmWave band spectrum

India’s telecom regulator (Trai) believes that its suggestion of coexistence between terrestrial network operators and satellite service providers in the millimeter wave (mmWave) band of 27.5- 28.5 GHz is essential for the “optimum use of airwaves.”

Trai has recommended the mmWave band – 24.25 GHz to 28.5 GHz – be put to auction. It has recommended a base price of Rs 7 crore a unit.

“Both International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) and satellite bands can co-exist.  That has to happen for the efficient use of spectrum,” said a senior Telecom regulator who did not want to be identified by name.

“The Satellite Earth Station Gateway (for satcom) should be permitted to be established in the frequency range 27.5-28.5 GHz at uninhabited or remote locations on a case-to-to-case basis, where there is less likelihood of 5G IMT services to come up,” the Trai official said.

Trai said that such a move would encourage buyers – both telcos and satcom players and eliminate the possibility of a major chunk of such airwaves to remain idle.

Editor’s Note:

As we’ve noted many times, the WRC 19 specified 5G mmWave frequency arrangements have yet to be standardized in the ITU-R M.1036 revision. Hence, it’s a 5G frequency free for all.


Why are telecom companies upset with TRAI despite its proposal to cut spectrum prices by 40%?

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) this week released recommendations on auction of spectrum, including those likely to be used for offering 5G services. The telecom regulator has suggested cutting prices of airwaves across various bands by 35-40% from its earlier proposed base price. However, the Cellular Operators Association of India, whose members include the three private telcos, Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio and Vodafone Idea, has expressed disappointment, given the industry’s demand for a 90% reduction in the prices.

The telecom regulator has recommended that all available spectrum in the existing bands — 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz, 2500 MHz — should be put up for auction, along with airwaves in new bands such as 600 MHz, 3300-3670 MHz and 24.25-28.5 GHz. In all, more than 1,00,000 MHz of airwaves have been recommended to be put up for auction. The total spectrum on offer at reserve price is valued at about ₹5 lakh crore for 20 years.

For the 3300-3670 MHz band, which has emerged as the prime spectrum for 5G and is likely to be used for deploying 5G in India, the all-India reserve price has been lowered by about 35.5% to ₹317 crore/MHz, from ₹492 crore/MHz recommended earlier. Similarly, the reserve price for the premium 700 MHz band, which saw no takers in the previous auction, has been cut by 40% to ₹3,927 crore/MHz, from about ₹6,568 crore/MHz.

TRAI has determined the reserve price for spectrum bands based on a 20-year spectrum holding period. The reserve price for the increase in spectrum holding period to 30 years would be 1.5x the recommended reserve price for 20 years.

It has also recommended several options for the uptake of Captive Wireless Private Networks (CWPNs), including private networks through telcos, independent isolated network in an enterprise’s premises using telcos’ spectrum, allowing enterprise to take spectrum on lease from telcos or directly from Department of Telecom (DoT) to establish their own isolated captive private networks. TRAI also suggested that enterprises may obtain the spectrum directly from the government and establish their own isolated CWPN.

Given the financial stress in the sector, the government had in November, written to the regulator emphasising the need to strike a balance between generating revenue and the sustainability of the telecom sector in a way that telecom service providers are in good health with sufficient capacities to make regular and substantial capital expenditure for transitioning to 5G technology. It had also highlighted that spectrum lying idle was a waste for the economy.

Further, in the last spectrum auction, held in March 2021, only 37.1% of the spectrum put to auction was acquired by the telecom services providers, largely due to high prices.

“The inputs received by the Authority during the consultation process also point to the need for further rationalisation of the reserve price,” the regulator said in the recommendation running to more than 400 pages.

In its recommendations, the regulator has asserted that the “valuation exercise (and the setting of the reserve prices) is grounded in a techno-economic methodology that is time-tested. The valuation is intended to elicit spectrum prices that encourage buyers to procure radio frequencies in different bands, while at the same time ensuring that bidders are discouraged from collusive behaviour.”

The telecom services providers have via the industry body COAI expressed disappointment with TRAI’s recommendations for auction of 5G spectrum bands.

In a strongly worded reaction, COAI called the recommendation a “step backwards” than forward towards building a digitally connected India.

COAI maintained that the spectrum pricing recommended by TRAI was too high, and noted that throughout the consultation process, the industry had presented extensive arguments based on global research and benchmarks, for significant reduction in spectrum prices. “Industry recommended 90% lower price, and to see only about 35-40% reduction recommended in prices, therefore is deeply disappointing,” it said.

It added that charging a 1.5x price for spectrum for a 30-year period will nullify the relief provided by the Union Cabinet in 2021. The industry body pointed out that by introducing mandatory rollout obligations for 5G networks without factoring the huge cost of such a rollout, TRAI has “delinked itself from reality and is running counter to the Government’s efforts of enhancing ease of doing business”.

On allowing private captive networks for enterprises, COAI argued that TRAI was dramatically altering the industry dynamics and hurting the financial health of the industry rather than improving it. Private networks would be a disincentive for the telecom industry to invest in networks and continue paying high levies and taxes, it contended.


India Telcos say private networks will kill 5G business

India’s top tier wireless network operators have called on the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) – India’s telecom sector regulator – to scrap the proposed move to administratively allocate 5G spectrum on demand for private enterprise networks through a publicized online portal-based process, warning that such a step could destroy the 5G business case in the country.

The businesses have mentioned that such a proposal, if accepted by the federal government, might probably rob telcos of their future 5G enterprise revenues – estimated at round 40% of the whole for 5G.  Revenue loss to such an extent won’t justify needed capital expenditure in establishing 5G networks, they’ve argued.

In its newest suggestions on 5G spectrum pricing, the Trai has advised that non-public enterprises straight acquire 5G spectrum from the federal government and set up their very own captive wi-fi non-public community (CWPNs). It has additionally beneficial a “gentle contact’ on-line portal-based regime” for buying such permissions/licences for establishing CWPNs. Trai has additionally advised that non-public enterprises have the choice to lease spectrum from telcos to arrange their very own captive non-public 5G networks.

“By permitting non-public captive networks for enterprises, Trai is dramatically altering the trade dynamics and hurting the monetary well being of the telecom trade reasonably than bettering it,” the Mobile Operators Affiliation of India (COAI) said in an announcement Tuesday, April 12th.

The COAI represents Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Thought (Vi). It added that “enterprise companies represent 30-40% of the (telecom) trade’s total revenues…non-public networks as soon as once more dis-incentivises the telecom industry to spend money on networks and in addition proceed paying excessive levies and taxes.”

The COAI has urged Trai to revisit its newest suggestions and disallow non-public enterprise networks to make sure monetary viability and orderly progress of the telecom trade that, it mentioned, is greater than able to delivering these companies to companies.

India’s mobile carriers had earlier advised Trai that any proposal to put aside 5G spectrum for personal enterprise networks for captive use both at no cost or at an administrative worth would even be legally untenable.

Trai has beneficial that the spectrum for personal networks be assigned administratively on demand by way of a extensively publicized on-line portal-based course of in a good and clear method. However the regulator has left it to the telecom division to determine whether or not such administrative allocation can be legally tenable or not, based mostly on DoT’s spectrum allocation coverage.

In its 5G dialogue paper, Trai had mentioned the likes of Germany, Finland, UK, Brazil, Australia, Hong Kong and Japan had put aside spectrum within the mmWave band for personal captive 5G networks, whereas Slovenia, Sweden and Korea deliberate to put aside each mmWave and mid-band 5G spectrum for such captive networks.

Subsequently, Tata Communications (TCL), Larsen & Toubro (L&T) and cigarette maker ITC had strongly countered the telcos’ place, and known as on Trai to again earmarking devoted spectrum non-public captive networks and undertake international practices to create a personal 5G ecosystem for enterprises to drive the federal government’s Make in India imaginative and prescient.

However one other high telco government mentioned that if operators’ potential 5G income flows from the profitable enterprise enterprise vertical dry up, they might see little enterprise sense in bidding aggressively for 5G airwaves within the upcoming sale.

Bulk of the bidding urge for food for 5G airwaves, he mentioned, stems from the sturdy income potential of the B2B enterprise enterprise. But when that income stream disappears, telcos gained’t have a viable enterprise case to splurge huge cash on 5G spectrum, particularly as they’ve sufficient spectrum to proceed their current cellular broadband companies operations.”

Know-how corporations, although, have strongly backed Trai’s name to permit non-public enterprises to straight acquire 5G spectrum from the federal government by way of the executive route.

“By way of non-public networks, Trai’s suggestions handle the pursuits of TSPs (telecom service suppliers), enterprises and the general public as extra non-public networks would result in extra employment alternatives and enterprise, and translate into larger financial output and advantages,” mentioned the Broadband India Discussion board (BIF), which counts Cisco, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Fb-owner Meta, Qualcomm and Intel amongst its key members.

Earmarking unique spectrum for personal 5G networks, it mentioned, would additionally present an “enchancement over common SLAs (service level agreements) of public networks, moreover guaranteeing full lack of interference between them”.

BIF added that Trai’s name for task of spectrum administratively for personal 5G networks “is most acceptable” because it has thought of that captive wi-fi non-public networks should not public networks and don’t have any market prospects, and are restricted to a selected location.”

Trai chairman PD Vaghela termed the 5G spectrum rates “reasonable”, saying they have been arrived at after considering various factors including quantum of spectrum offered, competition in the market and profitability.


April 18, 2022 Addendum:

Spectrum users have started squabbling over the telecom regulator’s recommendation to earmark certain bands for captive wireless private networks.

The cellular operators under the COAI have opposed regulator suggestions of allowing enterprises to build their own private 5G networks for captive purposes.

The suggestion has been welcomed by the Broadband India Forum (BIF).

Technology players such as Facebook, Google, Indian Space Association (ISpA) want the 28.5GHz band spectrum to be reserved and allocated exclusively for satellite communications (satcom) services.

The COAI said “by allowing private captive networks for enterprises, telecom regulator Trai is dramatically altering the industry dynamics and hurting the financial health of the industry rather than improving it”.

“Telecom service providers have and going forward will invest lakhs of crore rupees in network rollouts. Enterprise services constitute 30-40 per cent of the industry’s overall revenues. Private networks once again disincentivises the telecom industry to invest in networks and continue paying high levies and taxes.”

The Broadband India Forum (BIF), the industry body of tech players such as Facebook and Google, welcomed the recommendations to allow private networks.

Home / Business / Telcos flay plan for private 5G networks

Telcos flay plan for private 5G networks

The Broadband India Forum (BIF), the industry body of tech players such as Facebook and Google, welcomed the recommendations to allow private networks
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R. Suryamurthy   |   New Delhi   |   Published 18.04.22, 04:17 AM

Spectrum users have started squabbling over the telecom regulator’s recommendation to earmark certain bands for captive wireless private networks.

The cellular operators under the COAI have opposed regulator suggestions of allowing enterprises to build their own private 5G networks for captive purposes.


The suggestion has been welcomed by the Broadband India Forum (BIF).

Technology players such as Facebook, Google, Indian Space Association (ISpA) want the 28.5GHz band spectrum to be reserved and allocated exclusively for satellite communications (satcom) services.

The COAI said “by allowing private captive networks for enterprises, telecom regulator Trai is dramatically altering the industry dynamics and hurting the financial health of the industry rather than improving it”.

“Telecom service providers have and going forward will invest lakhs of crore rupees in network rollouts. Enterprise services constitute 30-40 per cent of the industry’s overall revenues. Private networks once again disincentivises the telecom industry to invest in networks and continue paying high levies and taxes.”

The Broadband India Forum (BIF), the industry body of tech players such as Facebook and Google, welcomed the recommendations to allow private networks.

“In terms of private networks, Trai’s recommendations are balanced and practical and address the interests of the telcos, the enterprises, as well as the public – since more private networks would lead to more employment opportunities and business, and in turn, translate into greater economic output and benefits,” BIF said.

The Indian Space Association (IsPA) said “we welcome Trai’s recommendation that calls for coexistence of satellite communications and IMT in the 27.5-28.5GHz band. We also appreciate recommending an exclusion zone for satellite earth stations in the 27.5-28.5GHz band.”

IsPA opposed the inclusion of all spectrum in the 24.25-28.5GHz bands along with low and mid bands in the auction as it was a case of oversupply to the telecom operators at the cost of the satellite industry.

“The 24.25-27.5GHz bands along with  3.3-3.67GHz bands would be more than sufficient for 5G. Therefore, in line with the global best practices, the 28GHz band should be allocated exclusively for satellite communications,” it added.

In its recent recommendations, telecom regulator Trai said spectrum in three bands – 3700-3800MHz, 4800-4990MHz and 28.5-29.5GHz band – could be earmarked for captive wireless private networks which, it felt, could co-exist with non-IMT services.

In the 28.5-29.5 MHz band, Trai said: “A software based transparent system should be built to permit the establishment of private networks and satellite earth Stations based on the geo-coordinates of the proposed location on interference free co-existence basis.”

The regulator added: “DoT should develop a digital map with geographic coordinates of all the existing and future satellite earth stations as well as geographic coordinates of the premises of Private Network locations. Based on this database, permissions for establishment of new installations may be provided to the licensees.”


Related:  IEEE/SCU SoE Panel Session on Open RAN and 5G Private Networks:


India Data Center firms seek captive fiber for faster and more efficient connectivity

India data center providers have urged the government to allow them to lay their own captive fiber optic networks to offer faster and more efficient connectivity to companies.  India’s current laws around fiber usage require data center operators to depend on telecom service providers for the fiber. That increases prices, makes the process time consuming and impacts ease of business,  senior industry executives told ET.

–>The data center sector does not want to be governed by the same rules as telecom operators since it will become expensive and onerous to lay the fiber.

IT industry body Nasscom has also supported the data center industry’s demands through a recent submission to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai).  Nasscom has called for allowing data center companies to lay their own dark fiber between two or more data centers of the same company, to connect customers’ equipment located within such centers.

The biggest challenge affecting data center operations and services in India is around the telecom licenses to connect data centers that are not part of the same campus, Vimal Kaw, NTT’s head of data center services, told the Economic Times (ET).

“In India, telecom is regulated, and a license is required for data center providers to be able to create a network of connected data centers spanning across locations within a city or across cities. Thus, provisions need to be made by the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) and government in the current regulatory framework to enable data center providers to connect DCs using dark fiber to offer services to DC customers,” Kaw said. Typically, companies pay licensed telecom/internet service providers (TSPs/ISPs) on an annual contract basis.

TSPs, in turn, pay a share of their revenue to the government, irrespective of public or private use of the services. If data center businesses want to set up their own dark fiber networks, they will have to come to a similar revenue share arrangement under current laws, which companies say is not feasible for business-to-business networks.“

Sourcing fiber networks through ISPs/ TSPs can lead to exorbitant prices for data center providers, plus it is a time-consuming process. Meanwhile, getting an ISP license for captive usage is even more expensive. Acknowledging the specific need of the data center ecosystem can go a long way in enabling us to extend our services to newer regions,” said Piyush Somani, CEO of ESDS Software.

Nasscom  told Trai that traditional networks operated by TSPs are principally designed for voice or public data services, not for cloud services, which require very high availability, bandwidth, and low latency for extremely high amounts of data.

India IT industry body Nasscom has also supported the data center industry’s demands through a recent submission to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai).


Data centers depend on captive dark fiber connectivity sourced from telecom operators to expand their presence, Ashish Aggarwal, head of policy, Nasscom told ET. But the process is time consuming and inefficient for the data center ecosystem. “Laying dark fiber is not a TSP activity in the traditional sense because it’s a captive network. For the benefit of ease of business, data centres should be allowed to lay their own fibre networks,” Aggarwal said.

Sunil Gupta, co-founder and CEO of Yotta Infrastructure, said the government can possibly set up a mechanism – either a mandatory obligation or subsidization/incentivization, or both — for this purpose.“   Additionally, data center operators should be allowed to lay their fiber optic cable and develop their own managed network to connect to other data centers, landing stations, and other key buildings of interest like stock exchanges,” he added.

Meanwhile, telecom operator Reliance Jio, in its submission to Trai has urged the regulator to only back fiber connectivity to data centers via licensed entities. Bharti Airtel has said that if right of way issues around fiber connectivity are resolved, the process can become more efficient.


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