Official response and comment from the Dynamic Spectrum Alliance
New Delhi, India, 7 September 2016: The Dynamic Spectrum Alliance (DSA) applauds the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on issuing the “Consultation Paper on Proliferation of Broadband through Public Wi-Fi Networks” and has submitted recommendations for increasing the amount of license-exempt spectrum.
Today in India, over half of all Internet traffic travels over a Wi-Fi connection. Internet traffic is projected to grow by more than a factor of four between 2015 and 2020, with an increased percentage of traffic traveling over mobile phones. It is expected that most of these mobile phones will have built-in Wi-Fi capability. Building and maintaining robust wireless connectivity – including Wi-Fi – depends on access to license-exempt radio frequency spectrum.
The consultation paper rightly builds a strong case for boosting broadband availability through Wi-Fi in public places on the grounds that data tariffs on such systems would be a fraction of the prevailing rates on mobile networks. DSA believes it is vital that TRAI advance policies that will make available additional license-exempt spectrum both by designating bands for license-exempt use, where available, and through intensive spectrum sharing between and among licensed and license-exempt users where possible.
“The DSA is all about promoting and enabling spectrum sharing of all guises. This means we prefer balancing more shared spectrum utilisation over exclusive utilisation, balancing static allocation with more dynamic allocation, and balancing licensed regulations with more unlicensed regulations. So naturally, we support plans worldwide to open up more spectrum to unlicensed access from devices and unlicensed sharing,” said Professor H Nwana, Executive Director of the Dynamic Spectrum Alliance.
“Having an insufficient amount of spectrum available for license-exempt devices presents a real barrier to proliferating public Wi-Fi across India,” he added. “The DSA is fully supportive of TRAI’s effort to increase broadband coverage and capacity.”
The DSA believes that dynamic spectrum sharing would allow available spectrum to be used more efficiently than any existing static techniques. Introducing dynamic spectrum access would enable access to spectrum in a given band to be coordinated in real time (or near-real time), and the amount of spectrum adjusted depending on the service demand at any given moment, whilst taking into account geographic characteristics. Dynamic spectrum sharing can utilize a combination of technologies, including but not limited to geo-location databases, access control technologies, sensing, and data analytics to allocate the available spectrum in the most efficient manner. Such dynamic solutions would allow for innovative sharing with different services across the sub-bands, ushering in considerable innovation for public Wi-Fi operators.
“We strongly suggest TRAI increases the amount of license-exempt spectrum available through dynamic spectrum sharing in segments of the 5 GHz band, the TV White Space, high-band spectrum (71-76 GHz and 81-86 GHz), as well as assigning the lower part of 6 GHz and the entire 57-71 GHz range for license-exempt use. With these steps there will be enough spectrum to fully support TRAI’s objective of expanding broadband through the proliferation of public Wi-Fi in India,” concluded Nwana.
Earlier this year the Dynamic Spectrum Alliance welcomed the Indian Government’s move to issue eight new licenses in the 470-582 MHz band. The purpose of these is to carry out experiments at several locations using TV White Space-like-rules and regulations already adopted (or being adopted) in other countries such as Malawi, Ghana, Singapore, the Philippines, UK, USA and Canada. This decision opens up opportunities for the use of sub-1GHz spectrum in India for Wi-Fi too, in either an unlicensed or lightly licensed fashion, without the need for spectrum auctions.