The government will shortly finalise a master list of spectrum bands that India will push for deployment in 5G telecom services at the International Telecom Union’s upcoming World Radiocommunication Conference-2019 in Egypt.
The matter will be discussed at a high-level inter-ministerial meeting on June 17, which will be chaired by a top official of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) wireless planning cell, a person with direct knowledge of the matter told ET.
At the meeting, senior officials of DoT, the Department of Space, Indian Space Research Organisation, Doordarshan, defence ministry and Airports Authority of India (AAI) will try to build consensus on new bands that can be identified and backed for 5G rollouts at WRC-19. Senior executives of phone companies, network vendors and chip makers will also be present.
The potential master-list is likely to include 600 MHz, 1.4 GHz, 2.6 GHz, 4.8 GHz, 26 GHz, 31GHz, 47 GHz and the E& V bands, which are the wireless equivalent of fibre and can be used for high-capacity backhaul requirements in dense central office districts. The E&V bands include airwaves, typically in the 71-to-86 GHz and 57-to-71GHz ranges, and are considered ideal for meeting mobile broadband backhaul needs cost-effectively.
“There will be detailed consultations on June 17 between the multi-ministerial representatives to build consensus and mutual accommodation around spectrum bands, including millimeter waves, that can be supported globally at WRC-19 for 5G deployments, including in India, going forward,” said another person aware of the matter.
The meeting is crucial, coming as it does on the heels of new telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad setting a 100-day deadline to start 5G trials, and also signalling that the next spectrum sale, which would include 5G airwaves, will be held in calendar 2019.
WRC-19, scheduled in Sharm El-Sheikh (Egypt) in October, will review and revise global radio regulations — the international treaty governing use of radio frequency spectrum. It will take a final call on which airwave bands will be globally assigned for 5G services. Accordingly, India needs to put across its views after internally taking stock of spectrum band requirements in telecom, space, I&B, defence and civil aviation ministries. The European Commission has reportedly decided to harmonise millimeter-wave spectrum in the 26 GHz band across the European Union for 5G technology, for the move towards gigabitspeed wireless broadband services.
Initial services likely to be deployed in 26 GHz band would be enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) services for high-capacity, fixed wireless access (FWA), high-definition video communications, virtual, augmented and mixed realities, said experts. 5G is slated to transcend smartphones and connect anything from cars, homes and machines to household gadgets with internet connection at speeds that could potentially be a 100 times higher than 4G networks.
Experts say India is running late and could be at least three years behind South Korea, Japan, Australia, the US, China, France and Germany in rolling out 5G networks. 5G services are likely to be rolled out in these pioneer markets by late 2019 or early 2020.