Space Group, Telecom News, ET Telecom

The allocation of 28 GHz remains a contentious issue between satellite service companies and terrestrial network operators such as Reliance Jio and Vodafone Idea, as they both have high stakes due to the premium band tied to economic dividends. ISpA, based in Delhi, represents OneWeb, Nelco from Tata, Ananth Technologies and MapmyIndia.

Last November, UK-based Plum Consulting, reviewing the role of the 28 GHz band (27.5-29.5 GHz) for satellite use, said High Throughput Satellite Systems (HTS ) next-generation are capable of delivering gigabit connectivity and that the 28 GHz band would be a key enabler. The space group, having a dissenting view, argues that 28 GHz has been used by satellite broadband communications and is assigned to the space sector worldwide.

In 2018, the forum recommended up to 11 bands for 5G services, of which four bands – the 700 MHz band, the 3.5 GHz band, 24 GHz and 28 GHz, according to it, should be made available for the next generation of telecommunications services. “The most important part, which we highlighted in our submission to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), is that traditionally this band is allocated to space, and worldwide it was used by space communications,” Bhatt said.

The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), however, has argued that the 28 GHz band (Ka band) should be reserved for commercial 5G services, which is also recognized by the high-level 5G forum led by Stanford professor, AJ Paulraj. For emerging Asian markets such as India, Ka-band satellite deployments can contribute significant economic benefits, the company said, adding that providing high-speed broadband connectivity via satellite to regions not served in the Asia-Pacific region can contribute to $121.5 billion in GDP growth per year by 2030.

Nearly 40 stakeholders responded to Trai’s recent consultation paper on identifying frequency bands for next generation services. In a response to the telecommunications regulator, the space group argued that given contention in the band and its high value for satellite services, the national 5G allocation of the 27.5-28.5 GHz band is not a reasonable way forward, as it would unnecessarily sterilize valuable spectrum in areas where 5G will never be deployed using those frequencies.

Lately, India has witnessed increased activity in the satellite sector led by OneWeb with a total in-orbit constellation of 394 satellites to provide high throughput and low latency connectivity. The satellite body said the spacecom policy is at a “very advanced stage” of consultation within the government, and a wide range of proposals put forward by the Indian Space Research Organization (Isro) and the Indian National Center for promotion and authorization of space (IN -SPACe) are under consideration. “We’re quite optimistic that by the middle of this year, ground-based activities would start happening because the big players in the low Earth observation satellites would start getting their constellations up and running,” added Bhatt.

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Jennifer C. Burleigh