DoT leaves 600MHz band out of next Indian spectrum sale

DoT leaves 600MHz band out of next Indian spectrum sale

Indian newspaper reports are indicating that the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) will not auction 600MHz band spectrum in the upcoming sale.

This may not just be because the last attempt to sell the spectrum in August 2022 found no takers. It seems that since the World Radiocommunications Conference (WRC-23) in Dubai, there have been concerns that IMT in 600MHz in India may interfere with the satellite operations of neighbouring countries. Thus the DoT wants to conduct more studies to ensure there is no interference with satellite operations.

According to the Economic Times news service, an official has been quoted as saying that India wanted to add its name to countries offering IMT in 600MHz, but that this was opposed by China. In any case, as the spectrum still hasn’t been sold, more studies can, in theory, be conducted.

The next spectrum sale is due in March. While heavy bidding is unlikely, the permits of Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea (aka Vi) expire in 2024 in some circles (service areas – each circle is usually a state). All unsold spectrum from the last sale, barring the 600MHz, is going to be put on the table again.

Would the 600MHz spectrum have been bought if offered? The lack of a devices ecosystem in the 600MHz band has been flagged up as a problem in the past but since the band has the potential to improve wireless broadband coverage, particularly in remote and rural areas, it was recommended for 5G.

However, even if it now proves more desirable to operators than it did in the past, it looks like it won’t be on sale for some time to come.

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