Industrial concerns on TRAI 5G recommendations

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Industrial concerns on TRAI 5G recommendations

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s recommendation of cutting spectrum prices for 5G airwaves by 35-40 per cent has not gone down well with the companies and the industry associations, who had called for up to 90 per cent reduction.

Recommendations by TRAI

  • Sell all available spectrum in the forthcoming auctions, instead of allocating some of it as the industry had demanded.
  • A base price has been suggested of Rs 317 crore per MHz for the most used band of 3300-3670 MHz.
  • Time period for which the band can be kept is limited to 20 years, and if the airwaves are sold for 30 years, the base price is multiplied by 1.5 times.
  • Interested players may be allowed to set up private networks for enterprise use

About 5G Technology:

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  • 5G is the 5th generation mobile network.
  • It is a new global wireless standard after 1G, 2G, 3G, and 4G networks.
  • It enables a new kind of network that is designed to connect virtually everyone and everything together including machines, objects, and devices.
  • Internet speeds in the high-band spectrum of 5G have been tested to be as high as 20 Gbps (gigabits per second), while, in most cases, the maximum internet data speed in 4G has been recorded at 1 Gbps.

Uses of 5G:

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  • 5G is used across three main types of connected services, including enhanced mobile broadband, mission-critical communications, and IoT.
  • Enhanced Mobile Broadband: In addition to making our smartphones better, 5G mobile technology can bring new experiences such as Virtual reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) with faster, more uniform data rates, and lower latency, and lower cost-per-bit.
  • Mission-Critical Communications: 5G can enable new services that can transform industries with ultra-reliable, available, low-latency links like remote control of critical infrastructure, vehicles, and medical procedures.
  • Internet of Things: 5G is meant to seamlessly connect a massive number of embedded sensors in virtually everything through the ability to scale down in data rates, power, and mobility—providing extremely lean and low-cost connectivity solutions.
  • Combined with IoT, cloud, big data, Artificial Intelligence, and edge computing, 5G could be a critical enabler of the fourth industrial revolution.

Concerns raised by industries

  • Industry bodies have expressed their reservations about the suggestions of TRAI.
  • Price of 5G spectrum: Telecom industry body Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), which counts all the three major private telecom players, Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio Infocomm and Vodafone Idea as its members, has expressed disappointment at the prices.
    • The price recommended was too high despite extensive consultations with them.
    • The regulator’s move to recommend these prices only for 20 years, despite the government’s decision to allocate any new spectrum auctioned for 30 years “defied logic”.
  • It will nullify the relief provided by the Union cabinet in 021.
  • It won’t help the industry in aggressive network rollouts that will require massive investments
  • About one-and-a-half-time multiplier suggested if the spectrum is purchased for 30 years, the effective cut in prices would be in the range of just 3-10 per cent, which is much lower than the industry demand of 90 per cent.
  • Indian Space Association: Making all spectrum available for sale in the forthcoming auctions would be a case of oversupply to terrestrial telecom at the cost of the satellite industry.
    • The 24.25-27.5 GHz bands along with 3.3-3.67 GHz bands would be more than sufficient for 5G.
    • Therefore, in line with the global best practices, the 28 GHz band should be allocated exclusively for satellite communications. TRAI’s recommendation to allow private captive networks would alter the industry’s dynamics and hurt the financial health of the telecom sector.
  • Private networks once again disincentivise the telecom industry to invest in networks and continue paying high levies and taxes.

Exam track

Prelims take away

  • 5G
  • TRAI
  • Internet of Things
  • Artificial Intelligence

Mains track

Q. Discuss the challenges and advantages of 5G technology for India.