New Delhi, April 7, 2023: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has released a Consultation Paper on "Assignment of Spectrum for Space-based Communication Services".
In November 2021 the Department of Telecommunications (DOT), had requested TRAI to provide recommendations on "Auction of spectrum in the frequencies identified for International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) / 5G". TRAI was also requested to provide recommendations, on appropriate frequency bands, band plan, block size, applicable reserve price, quantum of spectrum to be auctioned and associated conditions for auction of spectrum for space-based communication services.
TRAI sought information/ clarifications in respect of space-based communication services from DOT. In response, DOT to avoid delay in 5G roll-out, suggested that TRAI may go ahead with recommendations on issues excluding space-based communication services.
DOT requested TRAI to provide recommendations on certain additional issues:
- assess the demand for space-based communication services and accordingly provide recommendations on the quantum of spectrum in each band required to be put to auction.
-explore feasibility and procedure of sharing auctioned spectrum among multiple service licensees.
-recommend the appropriate auction methodology so that the successful bidder gets spectrum for user link (as well as feeder link.
A Consultation Paper on "Assignment of Spectrum for Space-based Communication Services", seeking inputs from stakeholders have been placed on TRAI's website (www.trai.gov.in. Specific issues have been raised for consideration of stakeholders. Written comments on the issues raised in the Consultation Paper are invited from the stakeholders by May 4 2023 and counter-comments by 1 May 18 .
Govt reveals its hand
It is clear from DOT’s suggestions that even before TRAI came up with any recommendations, the government was inclined to auction and charge for any spectrum required for space- based communications.
Internationally, many nations have given administrative sanction for satellite-based space communication services and have not charged for the required spectrum. In its paper, TRAI brings this out.
In India telecom providers are divided on the issue of auctioning satellite spectrum, especially for the emerging technology of LEO or low earth satellites.