Indian telcos demand ban on Wi-Fi 6E routers

The battle for 6GHz spectrum intensifies as the COAI asks the DoT to ban the sale of WiFi-6E routers.

Gagandeep Kaur, Contributing Editor

May 6, 2024

2 Min Read
Man on a motorcycle holding the Indian Flag
Indian telcos think national interests would be served best through a Wi-Fi ban.(Source: Rahul Jarwal on UnSplash)

India's telecom industry wants local authorities to ban the sale of Wi-Fi 6 Extended (Wi-Fi 6E) routers, according to press reports.

The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), which represents Indian telcos such as Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, has reportedly alleged that routers are available on several ecommerce sites including Flipkart and Amazon. It argues that router sales should not be allowed because India's Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has yet to formulate a 6GHz policy.

Selling 6GHz products is illegal, according to the COAI, because the spectrum is not classed as unlicensed under the DoT's policy. "We would like to submit that DoT is yet to take a policy decision related to the 6GHz band utilization," said SP Kochhar, the director general of the COAI, in a letter to the DoT, said reports.

Telcos insist 6GHz is crucial for 5G monetization and therefore want it to be licensed, which means it will be available for use only through auction, but tech firms represented by the Broadband India Forum (BIF) are fighting to keep at least a part of the spectrum unlicensed.

The telco argument is that 6GHz could be used to provide improved indoor coverage via 5G-enabled Fixed Wireless Access (FWA). BIF, meanwhile, sees Wi-Fi 6 on unlicensed spectrum as a complement to 5G. 

Wi-Fi 6 is the next generation of Wi-Fi that not only provides improved speeds but also enables a greater number of devices to be connected to Wi-Fi without any impact on quality.

The International Telecommunications Union last year reached an agreement to open part of 6GHz for mobile services based on 5G and 6G technology, but the DoT has yet to clarify its own position.

Earlier this year, the GSM Association, a lobby group for telcos, wrote to the DoT requesting 6GHz be included in the National Frequency Allocation Plan (NFAP) to support 5G services later this decade.

"We urge you to recognise the 6GHz band (6425-7125MHz) for IMT in India without any further delay and incorporate the same in the National Frequency Allocation Plan (NFAP)," said Jeanette Whyte, the head of public policy for the GSMA's Asia-Pacific unit in a letter to the DoT.

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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.

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