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5G auctions: Govt expands guard band between IMT/5G and broadcasting services to 70 MHz

The satellite broadcasters’ reservation was to maintain 100 MHz guard band between IMT/5G and broadcasting services to avoid any interference

Considering the broadcasters’ appeal, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi government has decided to expand the guard band from 30 MHz to 70 MHz between IMT/5G and broadcasting services to avoid any interference in the C-band. However, it is still 30 MHz short of the broadcasters’ demand of a 100 MHz guard band.

The 5G spectrum auction process started on Wednesday with the Cabinet’s nod to Rs 4.3 lakh crore auction. The auctions will kick start on July 26 and will be completed by August.

The Department of Telecommunication (DoT) issued the Notice Inviting Applications (NIA) for the auction of 72 GHz of spectrum.

The auctions in the C-band, popularly known as mid-band, will be held for the spectrum between 3300-3630 MHz.

According to the NIA, for frequency assignment in 3300 MHz band, the following process shall be adopted:

(i) If 300 MHz or less is sold in this auction in this band in a particular LSA, then assignment of frequency, post auction, to successful bidders will be done by WPC Wing starting from 3600 MHz towards 3300 MHz starting with the first ranked bidder, and so on.

(ii) If quantum of spectrum sold in this band in a particular LSA, is more than 300 MHz and less than 330 MHz, then the unsold quantum of spectrum will be kept adjacent to 3630 MHz. The assignment to the successful bidders will be done by WPC Wing starting with the first ranked bidder, and so on. For example, if unsold spectrum is 20 MHz, then WPC Wing shall start the spectrum assignment from 3610 MHz towards 3300 MHz as per rank of the successful bidders.

Post the auction, the initial rollout of 5G service (about 10 times faster than 4G) could begin from August in a phased manner in the country.

India’s telecom regulator TRAI had, in 2018, recommended auctioning 3300-3600 MHz band for 5G services which was later increased to 3300-3670 MHz by DoT.

In its recommendations sent to the Department of Telecom (DoT) earlier this year in April, TRAI had put up the broadcasters’ concerns before the Ministry while including the 3600-3670 MHz band on the block for the auction.

During the consultation process initiated by the regulator, the broadcasters had objected the addition of 70 MHz. The satellite broadcasters’ reservation was to maintain 100 MHz guard band between IMT/5G and broadcasting services to avoid any interference.

In its recommendation, the regulator had suggested that there was a need to make use of high-quality bandpass filters operating in 3700-4200 MHz range.

“Therefore, DoT should ask the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) to take appropriate action and sensitize the MSOs, DTH operators, and other users to ensure the use of high-quality bandpass filters operating in 3700-4200 MHz range to avoid interference from IMT stations,” the regulator had suggested.

In order to avoid unwanted out-of-band emissions of the IMT stations falling within the FSS operating band 3700-4200 MHz, DoT should prescribe for having a sharp Spectrum Mask for IMT transmitters with an out-of-band PFD limit, the regulator had added.

The I&B Ministry had taken up the matter with DoT in order to avoid any disruption between 5G and broadcasting services.

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