India’s COAI wants the DoT to ban Wi-Fi 6E router sales

India’s COAI wants the DoT to ban Wi-Fi 6E router sales

The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has demanded that the government crack down on sales of Wi-Fi 6E routers that use the 6 GHz spectrum band, which has not yet been officially designated an unlicenced band.

According to media reports earlier this week,  a letter from COAI that was sent to the Department of Telecommunication on April 15 claimed that e-commerce platforms such as Amazon, Flipkart and Moglix were selling Wi-Fi 6E routers, as were some offline traders.

Wi-Fi 6E is an extension of Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) that enables Wi-Fi 6 to use the 6-GHz band to provide a superfast, low-latency “fast lane” for compatible devices and apps.

However, the 6-GHz band is a highly contentious one between the cellular and Wi-Fi sectors in India, despite the World Radio Conference 2023 (WRC-23) harmonising the upper 6 GHz band (6.425-7.125 GHz) globally for mobile services.

In India, the 6 GHz band is currently partly used by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for its satellite operations. The DoT has yet to decide how to reallocate the band, and to whom.

Both the COAI and the GSMA have lobbied the DoT to release the band to mobile operators who need the extra spectrum for 5G and upcoming 6G services. The Broadband India Forum wants the DoT to make it a new unlicensed band that can be used to create affordable public Wi-Fi services in rural areas. Under the WRC framework, India has up to 2027 to make a decision on the upper 6 GHz band.

Until that decision is made, COAI Director General SP Kochhar said in the letter that the DoT should ban sales of Wi-Fi 6E routers because they cannot legally use the 6 GHz band.

Moreover, even if the DoT eventually decides to make the 6 GHz band unlicenced, the letter said, consumers would be held legally liable for using Wi-Fi 6E routers making unauthorized transmissions in the meantime.

According to the Economic Times, Amazon, Flipkart, Moglix, and Google did not respond to email enquiries about the COAI demand. However, Moglix removed Wi-Fi 6E products from its site after the email was sent.


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