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5G: India considers which spectrum bands to focus on

Bands around 3.5 Ghz and 4.8 GHz could provide an entry point, provided bottlenecks like fiber backhaul are fixed

Indian government officials are talking to vendors like Ericsson and Nokia on the regulatory framework for 5g and identification of relevant spectrum bands.

Globally, 5G is nearer than you think. Although plans veer towards 2020 for commercial deployment, some US, Korean and Japanese telcos are doing pilots or trials in 2016 and say they plan to commercially launch 5G solutions in 2017. AT&T will perform field tests of its 5G network in Austin, Texas by 2016 end, and "customers will see speeds measured in gigabits per second, not megabits."

Ankit Agarwal, Global Head-Telecom Products, Sterlite Technologies, feels that India will get 5G at a later date, perhaps after 2022, and one reason is that only 15% of its 600,000 towers are connected on optical fibre, vs. 65-80% in US, China, Japan and Korea. Upgrading these towers will require significant investment. Agarwal points to a recent poll by LightReading, which found that lack of fibre backhaul was the biggest challenge faced by operators in implementing 5G.

The speed of 5G adoption will also depend on the spectrum bands released for 5G. Ericsson?APAC CTO Magnus?Ewerbring explains that policymakers "can look around the world and see examples on allocations...If a country uses a band which is very common with the rest of the world, there will be more focus and the technology will come out much quicker". He adds that the regulatory side has to be looked at now if India was to make 5G possible by 2021.

He says that 5G requires very high bands, and every telco should have at least 100 Mhz each for 5G. A number of telcos in developed countries are looking at bands around 3.5 Ghz and 4.8 GHz. However, "if you go higher around 28 Ghz, there is also lot of interest". Samsung is doing 5G tests with SK Telecom and Verizon in the 28 GHz band.

In India, mobile services across 2-, 3- and 4G are offered on 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz and 2300 MHz, while 700 Mhz will be included besides these, in the upcoming auction.

Last year Indian telcos, with the GSM Association, presented a case for four new spectrum bands as part of its 2025 vision, at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) forum.

These bands include sub-700 MHz frequencies (470-694MHz), L-Band (1350-1400MHz & 1427-1518MHz), 2.7-2.9 GHz band and the C-Band (3.4-4.2GHz).
While the sub-700 MHz band is mainly used for traditional free-to-air broadcast delivery, the L band currently supports aeronautical telemetry and military and civilian radar systems. The 2.7-2.9 GHz band is used for civil and military radars located mainly at airports. The C band is used for fixed-satellite services (FSS)

Based on stories in Economic Times, Financial Express

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