Telecom Spectrum Auction
- April 17, 2022
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN Topics
Telecom Spectrum Auction
Subject: Science & tech
Context- Why are telecom companies upset with the regulator despite its proposal to cut prices by 40%?
The story so far:
- The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) this week released recommendations on auction of spectrum, including those likely to be used for oﬀering 5G services.
- The telecom regulator has suggested cutting prices of airwaves across various bands by 35-40% from its earlier proposed base price.
- However, the Cellular Operators Association of India, whose members include the three private telcos, Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio and Vodafone Idea, has expressed disappointment, given the industry’s demand for a 90% reduction in the prices.
What is Spectrum?
- Spectrum refers to the invisible radio frequencies that wireless signals travel over.
- Those signals are what enable us to make calls from our mobile devices, tag our friends on Instagram, call an Uber, pull up directions to a destination, and do everything on our mobile devices.
- The frequencies we use for wireless are only a portion of what is called the electromagnetic spectrum.
- Portions of electromagnetic spectrum are grouped in “bands” depending on their wavelengths—the distance over which the wave’s shape repeats.
- The full electromagnetic spectrum ranges from three Hz (extremely low frequency) to 300 EHz (gamma rays).
- The portion used for wireless communication sits within that space and ranges from about 20 KHz to 300 GHz.
- When we talk about radio spectrum, we are talking about the range of radio frequencies that are used for communicating.
How Does Spectrum Work?
- Because a range of spectrum frequencies can be used for cellular communications, different bands have slightly different characteristics.
- For the purposes of wireless communication, we can think of spectrum in three categories: low-, mid-, and high-band spectrum.
- Low-band spectrum (under 3 GHz) travels longer distances with minimal signal interruption. Today’s wireless networks are built primarily on low-band spectrum, and the wireless industry has used this spectrum to build high-speed wireless networks.
- High-band spectrum (above 24 GHz) travels much shorter distances—think meters, not miles—compared to low-band spectrum, but offers high capacity and ultra-fast speeds.
- Mid-band spectrum (between 3 and 24 GHz) blends the characteristics of both low- and high-band spectrum—providing a mix of coverage and capacity.
- A spectrum auction is a process whereby a government uses an auction system to sell the rights to transmit signals over specific bands of the electromagnetic spectrum and to assign scarce spectrum resources.
- In India, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) conducts auctions of licenses for electromagnetic spectrum.
- India was among the early adopters of spectrum auctions beginning auctions in 1994.
- The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) was established on 20th February, 1997 by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997.
- Objectives of TRAI:
- TRAI’s mission is to create and nurture conditions for growth of telecommunications in the country.
- TRAI regulates telecom services including fixation/revision of tariffs for telecom services which were earlier vested in the Central Government.
- It also aims to provide a fair and transparent policy environment which promotes a level playing field and facilitates fair competition.
- Headquarters: The head office of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is located at New Delhi.
- The function of the TRAI is to make recommendations on the following matters:
- Need for introduction of new service provider.
- Revocation of license for non-compliance of terms and conditions of licence.
- Measures to facilitate competition and promote efficiency in the operation of telecommunication services to facilitate their growth.
- Technological improvements in the services provided by the service providers.