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May 2, 2007  |  Email This Article   |  Print This Article

Regulator in India pressured to release WiMAX spectrum

NEW DELHI (WiMAX Day). The Department of Telecommunications in India (DoT) is coming under increasing pressure to release radio frequencies for use with WiMAX networks.

At a seminar last week in New Delhi hosted by Intel, the American chipset manufacturer urged the government to allocate 2.3 ~ 2.4 GHz, 2.5 ~ 2.69 GHz and 3.3 ~ 3.6 GHz frequency bands for use with WiMAX. Intel also emphasised that all allocations of spectrum should be on the basis of technology neutrality.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has already recommended 3.3 ~ 3.6 GHz frequencies to the DoT, however the government has yet to release this spectrum. The TRAI proposed some 200 Mhz of this spectrum to be used in blocks of 15Mhz. However Intel and many local operators propose that 30 Mhz is more appropriate for minimum bandwidth requirements.

According to The Economic Times, a recent status report from the DoT noted that “in most towns, this frequency was available between 50-70 Mhz, while in major towns about 30 Mhz was available and in metros and major cities only 14 Mhz of this resource is free.”

Releasing the other spectrum is more complicated. The report said an allocation of frequencies in the 2.3 ~ 2.4 GHz bands “would be possible only after the existing, conventional, point-to-point and point-to-multipoint links, which are spread all over the country, are relocated to take suitable frequency band or on optic fibre cable.”

The allocation of 2.5 ~ 2.69 GHz is further complicated by the fact that it is presently used by the Insat satellite service, controlled by the Department of Space (DoS). The status report said: “for further availability of spectrum in this band, discussions are underway with the DoS keeping in view the existing and planned Insat-based satellite systems and applications.”

Many of the main operators of telecommunications in India are actively planning WiMAX networks, and the Intel seminar last week was organised by the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) and Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India (AUSPI), the two main associations of mobile telephony operators.

The associations and the operators have voiced their demands with the government to release spectrum so that they can begin deployment of WiMAX, and according to a spokesman for the DoT, “As soon as the policy is announced, the WiMAX technology will be deployed by the operators.”