Big-size, contiguous spectrum essential for 5G services, says Trai

Large blocks of contiguous airwaves would play a pivotal role in the penetration of next-generation 5G spectrum in India, according to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai).


In a white paper release by the Trai on Friday said: “To offer multi-gigabits mobile broadband services (MBB), 5G would essentially require large contiguous spectrum blocks per operator to roll out 5G services.”


The regulator said while larger block size is beneficial for improving mobile broadband experience and the spectrum efficiency of networks, smaller block size provides greater flexibility. However, the latter increases the chances of fragmentation. Trai had in August last year recommended a block size of 20 MHz with a cap of 100 MHz. The block size of 20 MHz would give flexibility to bidders and a maximum limit of 100 MHz per bidder would help in avoiding monopolisation of this band.


To avoid fragmenting spectrum, it has been recommended that in case a telecom service provider is able to win more than two blocks of spectrum, it should be allocated spectrum in contiguous blocks.


Trai observed 5G had the potential to work as a catalyst in achieving economic growth and investment in mobile network infrastructure would be a key enabler in this.


Given the massive impact 5G will have on industry verticals, and hence on the economy, effective spectrum pricing will play a vital role in promoting healthy investment in the networks, Trai said.


“The spectrum band should be able to provide contiguous coverage,” said Radhey Shyam Sarda, Huawei Wireless chief technology officer (India). However, a good 5G network cannot be expected unless a high capacity backhaul is not in place.


Currently, backhaul relies on either optical fibre or microwave radio links. “Fibre has limitless capacity but pulling fibre to every cell site is practically not feasible due to cost, time and logistical challenges. In comparison to fibre, microwave is cheaper, scalable option and can be deployed quickly,” the Trai paper said.

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