COAI demands more spectrum in 6GHz for enhancing 5G

Cellular Operators’ Association of India (COAI) has demanded that India must allocate more spectrum in mid-band like 6GHz for enhancing 5G mobile service.
Telstra broadband5G download speed offered by telecom operators would be reduced to 50 percent if less quantity of spectrum is allocated in the 6GHz band, COAI said in a letter to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).

Leading Indian telecom operators are Bharti Airtel, BSNL, Vodafone Idea and Reliance Jio.

Mid-band spectrum like 6GHz provides a balance of wide coverage and capacity which is critical to the rapid and cost-efficient deployment of 5G mobile networks in India and also meets the exponentially increasing data demands, that too at affordable terms.

“Shortage of 6GHz spectrum would compel telecom service providers (TSPs) to densify networks to meet IMT-2020 5G performance requirements, leading to 60 per cent higher annual costs. Without densification, 5G download speed would be reduced to 50 percent if less spectrum is allocated in the 6GHz band,” said SP Kochhar, Director General of COAI.

Currently, only 720MHz is available in the mid-band in India.

Further, the government is considering vacating the spectrum from broadcasters or satellite users in C band (3670-4000 Mhz) for 5G/6G use.

However, even this spectrum from C band will not be enough to reach the required 2GHz spectrum for international mobile telecommunications (IMT) in mid-band.

“It is essential that 1200 MHz available in 6GHz is allocated for mobile communications in India to get this critical 2GHz spectrum in mid-band,” COAI said.

India’s significantly higher population density (464 persons/sq km), compared to 36 in the US and 25 in Brazil, necessitates spectrum loading happens to the tune of 96 percent (compared to 40-50 percent in the US or Brazil).

Average population served by each antenna in India is roughly eight times that of these countries, putting a requirement of almost 4-5 MHz of spectrum/person.

“Wi-Fi services in India have sufficient spectrum in the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands (totaling 688 MHz) to meet the demand for Wi-Fi access in the 2025-2030 period. Wi-Fi services have negligible data offload from IMT mobile to Wi-Fi because India is a mobile-first nation with more than 95 percent of internet users accessing mobile broadband data,” COAI said.

COAI recommended that the most optimal allocation for the country in the 6GHz band is to identify the entire 5925-7125 MHz (1200MHz spectrum for IMT applications), as this would maximize the economic and societal benefits for achieving the national target of a $1 trillion digital economy.