GSMA: 6 GHz spectrum can enable 5G add $27 billion to India’s GDP – Fierce Network

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  • GSMA wants India to make 6 GHz spectrum available to the telcos

  • It claims the spectrum can add $27 billion to India’s GDP by 2030

  • The Indian Government will need to make a call soon regarding the usage of 6 GHz

Global lobbying body GSMA claimed that the 6 GHz spectrum can potentially add around $27 billion to India’s GDP by 2030 if it is used to advance the country’s 5G ecosystem. 

“India’s 5G momentum has gained global attention and respect. For it to continue, and for the full realization of the Indian government’s digital ambitions, a clear roadmap to deliver spectrum for growing mobile demand is needed. The upper 6 GHz band must be part of that roadmap and bringing it into commercial use will require close collaboration between government and the mobile industry,” says Luciana Camargos, head of spectrum at GSMA, in a press note. 

This comes close to the country conducting a spectrum auction next month, which doesn’t include 6 GHz spectrum.

GSMA presented the report, India Market Insight: The 6 GHz Band 5.925–7.125 GHz, to the Indian Government to urge them to include spectrum in the 6 GHz frequency band in the National Frequency Allocation Plan (NFAP) to advance 5G in the country. NFAP is a policy that outlines the spectrum roadmap for space, telecom, defense, information technology and broadcasting ministries. 

It also called for a partnership between the Indian Government and the industry to drive the commercialization of the 6 GHz spectrum. GSMA has pointed out that allocation of the mid-band spectrum is the only way telcos can meet the “future data traffic” demands. 

Combating investment in network densification with 6GHz spectrum  

The organization claims that Indian telcos will need to make significant investments in network densification if the mid-band spectrum, like 6 GHz spectrum, is not made available to the telcos. This will increase the cost of services, thus preventing countries from realizing the benefits of 5G deployment. 

GSMA says that its research shows that a shortfall of 800 – 1000 MHz spectrum in Mumbai can create a need for 195,785 additional small cells. “This would see power consumption increasing by 2.9x, on top of the relative increase in total network costs by 4.3x,” says the GSMA report. 

“If additional mid-band spectrum is not made available, this could increase the cost of public mobile network deployments — as operators need to densify networks to an extent that may not be economically feasible — or it could result in a degradation in network quality, especially if operators reach the technical limits of network densification. This would mean that consumers would not realize the full socioeconomic benefits of 5G,” says the GSMA report.

GSMA, along with the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), has been lobbying the Indian Government to release the 6GHz spectrum for telcos to grow the 5G ecosystem. The 6 GHz spectrum was identified by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) at the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-23) as an additional band for wireless services.

Indian telcos Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio launched 5G in October 2022, and now they claim to have 72 million and 100 million subscribers, respectively. Currently, the 6 GHz spectrum is being used by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). 

Earlier this year, the GSMA wrote to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to license the 6 GHz spectrum band. COAI recently asked the government to ban the sale of Wi-Fi 6E routers since they use 6 GHz, and the DoT has not made a decision regarding this spectrum. 

While GSMA and COAI are fighting for licensing of the 6 GHz band, Broadband Forum of India, an organization representing several tech majors like Google and Meta, among others, believes that the entire 6 GHz spectrum should be de-licensed and made available for Wi-Fi. The Indian Government will need to soon decide its policy regarding the 6 GHz spectrum.

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