Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), in its response to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) consultation paper on “Auction of Spectrum in Frequency Bands Identified for IMT|5G”, said that the ecosystem for the 600 MHz spectrum band is not ready yet. The state-run telco noted that it would be the first time that frequencies in the 526-698 MHz would be put to auction for the telcos. BSNL said that there isn’t enough data available globally to comment on whether this band is required.
“As per Para 3.36 of TRAI CP has indicated that these bands are to be put to auction for the first time. Globally also, only a few jurisdictions have concluded spectrum auctions for wireless services in this band. Thus, there is a constraint of both national and international level data for this band,” said BSNL.
BSNL Doubtful Whether 600 MHz Spectrum Can Bring Value Proposition for TSPs
The state-run telco expressed its concerns related to the value proposition that the 600 MHz spectrum can bring for the telecom service providers (TSPs). It is worth noting that airwaves in the 700 MHz band have already not seen any takers, and thus what can 600 MHz frequencies do more here is unclear.
BSNL said that airwaves in the 526-617 MHz should not be put for auction right now as the concerned band plans haven’t been defined by the International Telecom Union (ITU) or the 3GPP, so far. There is no ready ecosystem for International Mobile Telecommunication (ITM) available for these bands so far.
“It is too early to comment whether the proposed band in case put for auctions will be able to generate the value proposition for TSPs, as since spectrum available in 700 MHz band has remain unsold for the last five years, and important natural resource could not be utilised so far,” the state-run telco told TRAI.
BSNL said that the proposed spectrum band could be made available for the auction next to the 2022 auctions.
“For the 526-698 MHz bands, it may require considerable time for development of ecosystem. The spectrum in coverage band i.e. in 700 MHz band is already lying un-utilised for the last five years. The government should introduce new bands gradually for which the ecosystem is developed or it is likely to get developed in near future,” BSNL added.
The state-run telco didn’t deny the benefits and the power of the 600 MHz band spectrum. It could be definitely deployed by the telcos to improve rural coverage, which would help with the removal of the rural-urban digital divide.
The pricing of the spectrum will play a key role if and when the government decides to make the 600 MHz spectrum available for the TSPs. The reason that the 700 MHz band spectrum saw no takers was the high-reserve price.