Top Indian telecom operators’ recent demand for V-band spectrum is anti-consumer, anti-reforms and obstructionist to the progress and proliferation of broadband in the country, Broadband India Forum said in a statement.
BIF said that any such move will snatch away the possible “digital gifts to the general public” and shut the door on the plethora of opportunities that could be unlocked by connecting the unconnected.
Previously, top telcos phone had sought intervention of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha to stop the government from delicensing valuable spectrum in the E & V bands, saying such a move would hurt licensed carriers, rob the central exchequer of sizeable revenue, compromise national security and only benefit a clutch of foreign internet companies who would unfairly enjoy free access to these airwaves and be able to offer low-cost public WiFi services
“As per media reports, it is understood that a section of the industry has embarked on powerful lobbying at the highest levels to try and stop DoT from delicensing spectrum in the V-Band. The decision to delicense these bands is based not only in global best practice, but has also been specifically recommended by the Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of India,” BIF said, adding it strongly condemns such attempts to harm the interests of the consumers and the economy.
TV Ramachandran, President, Broadband India Forum said that the band is meant for Wi-Fi and very short backhaul only and will go a long way in meeting the data download capacity of the country, which is abysmally low.
“Any recommendation to auction it is hypocritical, self-seeking and grossly anti-consumer. Such a retrograde move stifles innovation, destroys the business case around both conventional telcos as well as the new age digital players rather than improving incumbent financial viability,” he said.
BIF said that more than 70 administrations around the world including major broadband enabled countries like USA, UK, Korea, Japan and China have delicensed the V-Band . “If V-Band is auctioned in India, we will be the only one across the world to have done so,” it added.
BIF said that the lobby group’s claim that the V-Band spectrum has the potential to be used as Access Spectrum and hence should be auctioned, is factually incorrect and misleading.
The lobby body said that V-Band has unique technical characteristics of oxygen absorption coupled with low coverage and high frequency which make it ideal for interference management and thus for high gigabit capacity WiFi. “It is best used for secondary access (creation of Wi-Fi hotspots) as well as for short haul backhaul networks. V-Band in Wi-Fi would create tremendous data haul traffic for carriage by telcos and ISPs.
The band, BIF said, has never been auctioned in India or anywhere else for backhaul and Wi-Fi spectrum. “If sincere, would the lobbyists agree to surrender the microwave backhaul and unlicensed WiFi spectrum they have been using for over two decades, for auctioning them now? Would they also be willing to pay for use of this unlicensed spectrum retrospectively?,” the agency questioned.
The body also alleged that a certain section of the industry has deliberately misread the judgment of the Supreme Court, and have been stating that the Supreme Court has decreed that spectrum can be assigned only through auction and therefore, V-Band spectrum should be assigned only through auction.
“Microwave backhaul or WiFi spectrum were neither the subject of discussion in the SC judgement of 2012, nor were they the basis for the cancellation of some licenses thereafter. If this was the case, the then-incumbent telcos’ Microwave backhaul and all WiFi spectrum would also have been cancelled and taken back by Government. It should be remembered that V Band is nothing but high frequency Microwave,” BIF said.