Reliance Jio, however, said that fiberisation will be key to connecting towers, helping telcos in the 5G landscape.
“E-band spectrum, which is for the backhaul... the government should really take a look at and see what they can do to make it more readily available,” Vodafone Idea CTO Vishant Vora said at the ET Telecom Digital Telco Virtual Summit 2020. “The operators will need that backhaul – there’s no point in putting in a lot of spectrum in the front end of the radio without having a proper backhaul.”
Bharti Airtel’s CTO Randeep Sekhon also said that spectrum in E band and V band will be key to 5G backhaul in India. The government should allow these bands at the earliest, he said.
“A robust transport network is needed. 5G will need backhaul, which will be much larger than the backhaul of a 4G site needs because of the sheer spectrum 5G brings in. Backhaul readiness is what Airtel is doing,” said Sekhon.
Airtel is already deploying 5G-ready technology in its wireless and backhaul networks, he said.
Airwaves in the E band, which fall between 71-76 GHz and 81-86 GHz, and V band, between 57-64 GHz, can transmit data with speed of around 1,000 megabit per second. The bands are mostly used as backhaul, which means connecting the core of a telecom network to nodes and then onto towers, to transmit data. In places where telcos cannot lay fibre – which requires manpower for laying and maintaining, national and local level permissions, besides a lot of investment – the E and V bands can be used, which are also more cost-efficient than fibre.
This spectrum is also called fibre wireless or fixed spectrum because like fibre it has the capacity to carry bandwidth since it is point-to-point, but it is not used for direct mobile connectivity.
The telecom regulator had given its recommendations in November 2015 that both E and V bands should be opened up, or delicensed, in the country and allotted – without auctions – for a fee to accelerate broadband penetration. But the telecom department has yet to take a decision, given the Supreme Court order of 2012 which said that natural resources, including spectrum, should be auctioned. However, the court did not distinguish between access and backhaul airwaves.
Licensed players such as telcos and internet service providers don’t want it delicensed because it will ensure spectrum in these bands is restricted for their use. But other companies, such as technology ones, support delicensing as it will allow more of them to offer Wi-Fi services.
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