There seems to be a tug of war going on between the satellite communication firms and Indian service providers over the 28GHz spectrum band.
Satellite firms, including Hughes, Viasat and Inmarsat, are resisting the allocation of 50% of the 28GHz spectrum to communications service providers (CSPs) as they allege it adversely impacts services.
Push me pull you
The telcos say the mmWave spectrum in the 26GHz and 28GHz band is required to provide economical 5G services. The problem is that this spectrum is used by the satellite players.
The government stands to gain additional revenue if this spectrum is auctioned. The satellite companies recently met DoT officials, and discussions are ongoing, with no resolution so far.
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) recently approved 5G trials, and a 5G spectrum auction is likely to be held in 2022. It is not clear whether any mmWave spectrum is up for sale.
In comments to the consultation paper, issued earlier in 2021 by the telecom regulator, on "Licensing Framework for Satellite-based Connectivity for Low-bit Rate Applications," Viasat says it "urges TRAI to disregard any attempts by the terrestrial IMT/5G proponents to seek identification of the 28 GHz band in India for terrestrial IMT/5G and to instead preserve access to the 28 GHz band for satellite broadband services and identify the 26 GHz and other mmWave and low-and mid-bands for terrestrial IMT/5G."
The satellite providers currently use the 27.5GHz to 29.5GHz frequency band.
Vodafone Idea says in the comments to the same consultation paper, "To ensure optimum utilization of precious and scarce natural resource, spectrum to be used for satellite based services should be put to auction route only before allocations. Any other administrative allocations would cause a huge loss to the National exchequer."
It adds that the spectrum availability should not be blocked for "any niche service like satellite based IoT services."
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India's satellite space is witnessing heightened activity with several international players such as Elon Musk's SpaceX and Amazon's Project Kuiper likely to provide services in the coming year.
Clearly, the battle lines are drawn between the satellite providers and telcos in India.