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DoT rejects BSNL demand for 70 MHz spectrum in mid-band

The department of telecommunications (DoT) has turned down a demand from BSNL to reserve 70 MHz spectrum in the 3300 MHz to 3670 MHz band (mid-band) for the telecom operator to launch 5G services. The state-run company will instead get 40 MHz in the band, as approved recently by the Digital Communications Commission (DCC), DoT said.

Apart from this, BSNL will get spectrum in the 600 MHz band and 400 MHz in the millimetre band for 5G services. According to sources, DoT was of the view that spectrum in the mid-band should not be reduced further as a certain portion has been already reserved for BSNL.

When Telecom Regulatory Authority of India made its recommendations, 370 MHz spectrum was available for auction. But the DCC later decided 40 MHz should be reserved for BSNL, bringing the quantity down to 330 MHz in the band. Reserving 70 MHz for BSNL would leave only 300 MHz for auction, which may create scarcity, sources said.

Although 300 MHz may be enough for private operators as a minimum of 100 MHz is required in this band to provide services, it might create problems if a telco wants more than 100 MHz. Private operators think such restrictions should not be placed on them.

BSNL does not participate in auctions, but will pay the auction-determined price whenever it wants to launch 5G services using the mid-band spectrum.

BSNL had demanded that it should be given spectrum in the bands as per globalised practice, so that there is an ecosystem of devices. Since mid-band has been utilised by telecom operators across the world for 5G, the same should be allocated to it. Otherwise, it would be difficult and expensive for the company to launch 5G services.

The state-run company plans to launch 4G services soon utilising a core network solution developed locally by CDoT and TCS. It plans to integrate the 5G solution, which too is being developed by CDoT and TCS, when ready for commercial rollout.

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