The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has restated its stance that the government should designate the 6 GHz spectrum band (5925-7125 MHz) for the commercial implementation of 5G New Radio (NR) networks, as well as 5.5G and 6G technologies. This move could also contribute to the achievement of the national target of a $1 trillion digital economy and provide societal benefits. According to an ET Telecom report, COAI DG, S P Kochhar, wrote a letter to the DoT (Department of Telecommunications) secretary, K Rajaraman, saying that the licensed 6 GHz is ideal for commercial success and deployment of 5G NR, 5.5G, and 6G in the future.
According to the telco group, the 6 GHz band has the potential to facilitate the development of sustainable 5G capacity on 5G sites. They also stated that making the 6 GHz band available in a timely manner, at reasonable conditions and price, could lead to cost-effective network deployment, reduce the gap in broadband usage, and promote digital inclusion throughout the country.
Earlier this year, in a letter addressed to Communications Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, the London-based GSMA highlighted that the 6 GHz frequency range would serve as a crucial mid-band spectrum to meet the requirements for 5G expansion. They emphasised that the timely availability of this spectrum would lead to cost-effective network deployment, narrowing the gap in broadband usage and promoting digital inclusion.
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The COAI expressed similar sentiments to those of the GSMA, stating that mid-bands like 6 GHz provide a balance of wide coverage and capacity. This is crucial for the speedy and cost-effective implementation of 5G mobile networks in India while also addressing the exponentially growing data demands at an affordable price.
Kochhar emphasised that the 6 GHz band is the only mid-band spectrum range that offers a contiguous bandwidth of around 300-400 MHz per telecom carrier, which would be required to cater to the evolving demands until 2030.
A GSMA study has revealed that India could potentially save over $10 billion per year in network expenditures by utilising the mid-band spectrum, such as the 6 GHz band, for 5G services. This band can provide extensive coverage and capacity with minimal power consumption compared to other bands.
In his letter, Kochhar also warned that a scarcity of 6 GHz spectrum would force telcos to densify networks to meet the IMT-2020 5G performance standards, resulting in a 60% increase in annual costs. In the absence of densification, 5G download speeds would be halved if less spectrum is allocated in the 6 GHz band.