COAI Urges Re-evaluation of India’s Policy on Direct-to-Mobile Network

The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has called for a re-evaluation of the Indian Government’s draft policy document concerning the Direct-to-Mobile (D2M) network.
Kazakhstan mobile networkCOAI emphasizes the need for a balanced approach in aspects such as the level playing field, spectrum allocation, network integration, and regulatory and cost arbitrage, expressing concerns about the proposed Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model versus Telecom Service Providers (TSPs).

The focal point of contention revolves around the spectrum assignment for a D2M network, specifically for broadcasting content delivery to smartphones and other devices. COAI asserts the necessity for a thorough review from the standpoint of maintaining a level playing field and avoiding regulatory arbitrage. The proposed spectrum (526 – 582 MHz) for D2M Service, as recommended by TRAI, is under scrutiny for potential refarming and its commercial value for IMT services.

COAI argues that building a dedicated D2M network with earmarked spectrum could disrupt the level playing field, stressing the importance of close integration of broadcasting capabilities with cellular networks to optimize spectrum and infrastructure for broadcasting and IMT services.

Recent critiques from the Consultative Committee of TEC regarding the adoption of ATSC 3.0 standards into the National Standard have raised concerns. The committee highlights shortcomings, requests global precedents, coexistence studies, and impact assessments on mobile networks. Additionally, questions have been raised about the applicability of this standard for commercially available mobile handsets and potential copyright issues due to foreign ownership.

Addressing the misconception that a dedicated D2M network is essential for disaster alerts, COAI points out the success of cellular networks in delivering SMS-based disaster alert messages through the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) platform. Trials for the Cell Broadcast method have also been conducted.

SP Kochhar, Director General of COAI, said: “For the complete and effective utilization of the 526-582 MHz spectrum band, a transparent auction of spectrum, a technology-neutral approach with a focus on seamless integration into the existing mobile networks is recommended.”

COAI stresses the importance of aligning any D2M service implementation with national legal and technical standards to prevent regulatory arbitrage in providing content services on mobile handsets. The call for a re-evaluation underscores the industry’s commitment to ensuring a fair and competitive landscape for all stakeholders involved in the evolving D2M network ecosystem.