Indian pubcaster Prasar Bharati has said that till the time issues relating to its existing terrestrial and satellite services are taken care of, it would be advisable to put on hold proposed auctioning of spectrum in the 526-617 Mhz bandwidth for IMT and 5G services.
“…whole frequency band 526-617 MHz band should not be put for auction in forthcoming auction unless the existing services and future plans of Prasar Bharati (Doordarshan) are taken care of,” Prasar Bharati has submitted in response to telecom regulator TRAI’s consultation paper on ‘Auction of Spectrum in frequency bands identified for IMT|5G’.
Prasar Bharati, parent of TV service Doordarshan and All India Radio, has justified its concern by pointing out that, at present, the frequency band 526-582 MHz is being used by DD for providing terrestrial TV with many analogue, digital-ready and digital terrestrial TV transmitters operating in the band, including in sensitive border areas of Jammu and Kashmir.
“Availability of spectrum for IMT services is more than the requirement. Which is evident from the outcome of the previous auction (March-2021)… it can be seen that huge chunk of 67 percent of available spectrum was unsold. In addition, new bands.
are also added in this auction — 3300-3670 MHz (370 MHz in each LSA); 24.25 -28.5 GHz (3.75 GHz in each LSA). Clearly, supply is much above the demand,” Prasar Bharati has argued against reallocation of certain bandwidth to telcos for 5G services that India proposes to roll out later this year.
The government had asked TRAI to provide recommendations on applicable reserve price, band plan, block size, quantum of spectrum to be auctioned and associated conditions for auction of spectrum in 526-698 MHz, 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz, 2500 MHz, 3300- 3670 MHz and 24.25-28.5 GHz bands for IMT/5G. Subsequently the regulator had floated a discussion paper end-November 2021.
In defense of its arguments against reallocation of bandwidths to telcos, Prasar Bharati has argued the allocation of 3300-3670 MHz for IMT will result in “reduction of the guard band between IMT services and C band satellite services from existing about 80 MHz to 10 MHz only”, which could cause interference in broadcasting services.
Doordarshan uses C-band satellite services (uplink-5.925-6 .425 GHz and downlink 3.7-4.2 GHz) for contribution and distribution of its channels, which are subsequently used by distribution platforms like cable operator, MSOs and DTH operators for mandatory carriage of DD channels on their platforms. DD’s FTA DTH platform FreeDish and several terrestrial transmitters too use these spectrums to reach the viewers.
“Although, in case of DD, effective guard band /separation is 30 MHz, however, the exact impact on satellite services would need to be assessed by (the) Department of Space,” Prasar Bharati has said.
Pointing out that the regulator and the government, including the Department of Space, need to further study the impact of reallocation of spectrum being presently used by Prasar Bharati and other broadcasting services, the pubcaster said it might be needed “to ensure protection of existing services”.
“Prior to allowing terrestrial mobile services, it is felt necessary that rules are adopted to ensure protection of existing C-band FSS operations,” Prasar Bharati has submitted.