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COAI backs TRAI move to push mid-band spectrum allotment for early 5G rollout

The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) while commending the move has asserted that this will significantly reduce roll-out costs for telecom operators

The recent move by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to expedite the auction of available mid-band spectrum (3300MHz to 3600MHz) and allocation of spectrum in millimeter-wave (mmWave) range for IMT-2020, has come out well with the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), the representative body of the Indian telecommunications industry.

The COAI while commending the move has asserted that this will significantly reduce roll-out costs for telecom operators. “TRAI’s thrust on the resolution of RoW issues is much needed. The Recommendation for exemption of RoW (right of way) charges for the next five years (from FY 2022-23 to FY 2027-28) will significantly reduce the overall cost of roll-out for TSPs (telecom service provider),” COAI said.

The telecom regulator, TRAI, will also assign backhaul spectrum in a timely manner to telecom operators that will strengthen 4G services and infrastructure and accelerate 5G implementation in India.

According to COAI, the recommendation on the national RoW portal is a big step for the Indian telecommunication industry and said it will usher transparency in decision making and also boost the roll-out of services.

“With regard to restoration charge, TRAI has recommended that the Central Government work out a uniform restoration change for open trench and pit with State Governments and UTs. We believe that this will ensure clarity on charges applied and also reduce the cost burden for TSPs,” COAI said.

Meanwhile, the TRAI has also recommended the implementation of the dig once policy and to inform before the dig. “In this regard, TRAI has recommended that to avoid frequent interruptions in services due to accidental damages of underground infrastructure, each utility provider should communicate its digging plans in an area to other utility providers operating in that area before submitting an application for RoW permission to the appropriate authority. This recommendation will help in addressing the issue of frequent fibre cuts and help the industry to save the cost of redeployment of fibre,” COAI said.

Speaking on the latest TRAI move, Director-General, COAI, Lieutenant General Dr. SP Kochhar said, “We welcome the recommendations by TRAI on a National RoW portal, exemption of RoW charges for next five years, auction of mid-band spectrum, allocation of mmWave range, and assigning of backhaul spectrum to TSPs. These steps will go a long way in boosting India’s 4G services and infrastructure, and in paving the way for the smooth rollout of 5G services in India in the near future. We are confident that the suggestions provided by TRAI will be duly considered and implemented by the Central Government.”

Further, Kochhar said that it is critical to ensure that the telecom industry remains financially strong. “The financial health of the sector has to be safeguarded and these recommendations from TRAI will boost the financial viability of the industry to meet the investment expectations,” Kochhar said.

According to Kochhar, 5G has the potential to become the future communication platform of choice for every industry like manufacturing, education, health, entertainment, real estate, etc. “5G, through its inherent strengths, will also enable the growth of new-age technologies like IoT, M2M, AI, AR, VR, and blockchains besides fixed wireless high-speed broadband networks. Therefore, we are thankful to TRAI for the recommendation and look forward to working with TRAI in scaling up the Digital Transformation in the country,” Kochhar said.

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