There seems to be a tug of war going on between the satellite communication firms and Indian service providers over the 28GHz spectrum band.

Gagandeep Kaur, Contributing Editor

June 14, 2021

3 Min Read
Satellite firms, telcos fight over 28GHz spectrum in India

There seems to be a tug of war going on between the satellite communication firms and Indian service providers over the 28GHz spectrum band.

Satellite firms, including Hughes, Viasat and Inmarsat, are resisting the allocation of 50% of the 28GHz spectrum to communications service providers (CSPs) as they allege it adversely impacts services.

Figure 1: Source: NASA Source: NASA

OneWeb, partly owned by Bharti Airtel, India's second-largest service provider, is the only one not objecting to the spectrum being awarded to the telcos.

Push me pull you

Indian private service providers including Reliance Jio, Airtel and Vodafone Idea, are demanding the 28GHz spectrum be put up for sale in the forthcoming 5G auctions.

The telcos say the mmWave spectrum in the 26GHz and 28GHz band is required to provide economical 5G services. The problem is that this spectrum is used by the satellite players.

The government stands to gain additional revenue if this spectrum is auctioned. The satellite companies recently met DoT officials, and discussions are ongoing, with no resolution so far.

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) recently approved 5G trials, and a 5G spectrum auction is likely to be held in 2022. It is not clear whether any mmWave spectrum is up for sale.

In comments to the consultation paper, issued earlier in 2021 by the telecom regulator, on "Licensing Framework for Satellite-based Connectivity for Low-bit Rate Applications," Viasat says it "urges TRAI to disregard any attempts by the terrestrial IMT/5G proponents to seek identification of the 28 GHz band in India for terrestrial IMT/5G and to instead preserve access to the 28 GHz band for satellite broadband services and identify the 26 GHz and other mmWave and low-and mid-bands for terrestrial IMT/5G."

The satellite providers currently use the 27.5GHz to 29.5GHz frequency band.

Two sides

Vodafone Idea says in the comments to the same consultation paper, "To ensure optimum utilization of precious and scarce natural resource, spectrum to be used for satellite based services should be put to auction route only before allocations. Any other administrative allocations would cause a huge loss to the National exchequer."

It adds that the spectrum availability should not be blocked for "any niche service like satellite based IoT services."

Want to know more about satellite? Check out our dedicated satellite content channel here on Light Reading.

India's satellite space is witnessing heightened activity with several international players such as Elon Musk's SpaceX and Amazon's Project Kuiper likely to provide services in the coming year.

Clearly, the battle lines are drawn between the satellite providers and telcos in India.

Related posts:

— Gagandeep Kaur, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

Read more about:


About the Author(s)

Gagandeep Kaur

Contributing Editor

With more than a decade of experience, Gagandeep Kaur Sodhi has worked for the most prominent Indian communications industry publications including Dataquest, Business Standard, The Times of India, and Voice&Data, as well as for Light Reading. Delhi-based Kaur, who has knowledge of and covers a broad range of telecom industry developments, regularly interacts with the senior management of companies in India's telecom sector and has been directly responsible for delegate and speaker acquisition for prominent events such as Mobile Broadband Summit, 4G World India, and Next Generation Packet Transport Network.

Subscribe and receive the latest news from the industry.
Join 62,000+ members. Yes it's completely free.

You May Also Like