The Broadband India Forum (BIF) and Indian Telecom operators are in disagreement over the issue of private entities being allowed to set captive networks with the direct allotment of the 5G spectrum. Meta, Amazon, and Tata Consultancy Services are some of the members of the Broadband India Forum and said that private networks do not pose any security threat. It is due to networks being disconnected and closed from the public telecom networks.
Furthermore, the BIF has emphasized that the government should have broad thinking about the advancement of technology. They have also asked the Center to earmark some amount of exclusive spectrum for private 5G networks in each kind of spectrum band.
Tech Giants Opinion
The body led by tech giants said, “Allow direct allocation of spectrum to enterprises/organizations at a nominal administrative fee, as per global best practices,” They further added “Facilitate a light-touch online portal based paperless regime for acquiring permission/license for ‘Captive Wireless Private Network (CWPN)’ within 30 days of application, (as recommended by Trai) to enable ease of doing business.”
It has been proclaimed that public networks cannot deliver the levels of efficiency, which are needed, that is why the private networks were set up by the enterprises. It also added to the argument that 5G networks would make for the government and the telecom’s additional revenue streams. They will purchase the spectrum at a price fixed by the government and allocated administratively.
However, the BIF referred to the Supreme Court guidelines on spectrum allocation issued in 2012 and noted that the spectrum that can be assigned only through auction is false. They also added that private 5G networks need for the possibility of threats to national security and lawful monitoring does not rise at all. Moreover, these networks were not allowed for external communications.
Why Indian Telcos Are Not In Favour Of Direct Allocation?
On the other hand, Indian Telecos are against the direct allocation of 5G airwaves to private companies. And they have written to the government as well. They shared that the allocation of these networks will badly affect the enterprise business of telecom companies. And if the government favors the opposite party, it will leave no business case for the carriers to roll out 5G services.
The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), which represents Vodafone Idea, Bharti Airtel, and Reliance Jio, communicated to the telecom minister Ashwini Vaishnaw. In communication, they have sought the government’s intervention to safeguard the telecos’ interests. They also said that permitting the spectrum for private networks will damage the financial health of the industry. As we all know, the industry is reviving after last year’s government relief package.
Additionally, the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) letter to the minister stated, “We request your urgent kind intervention in the matter to ensure that the interest of the TSPs as well the enterprise segment is efficiently catered to.” This letter is the response to Tata Consultancy Services and other private companies seeking direct allocation of the 5G spectrum. It is the direct recommendation of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai).
Now it is up to the government to either lease a model via existing telecos or give license to airwaves. The telecom department also checked that telcos were perfect to give the services to the private companies. But the final decision is yet to be made.