ITU paves way for 5G services on 26 GHz band in India

The International Telecom Union (ITU) has rejected a proposal that could have substantially increased the cost of 5G rollout in India. This counts as a major win for Indian telecom operators such as Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Jio.

In a decision to safeguard the interest of Indian space agency – ISRO, this proposal was taken to ITU, which is the global telecom standards body. Under the same, all the Indian telecom operators would have required to deploy low power transmission for offering 5G services in 26 GHz band. This was suggested by DoT because high-power transmission would interfere with the satellite communications of ISRO.

According to the experts, if ITU had agreed on the DoT proposal, operators would have required to deploy 16 times more base stations, making 5G deployments under 26 GHz band costlier. This could have then affected the consumer-cost of 5G services.

As a matter of fact, a 5G station transmits at a power of 60 dbm in a 200 MHz block of spectrum. DoT’s proposal would have forced the carriers to lower the power to transmit at 37 dbm. This difference would have made the operators to deploy 16 times more base stations ensuring the same coverage.

India considers 700 MHz, 3.5 GHz and 26 GHz as viable frequency bands for 5G services. However, 26 GHz band is the most important as it ensures higher speeds in gigabit range with lower latency. It also allows operator to deploy technologies like beamforming and MIMO, since 26 GHz band offers 3250 chunks of spectrum, compared to only 175 chunks in 3.5 GHz band.

This ITU ruling ensures that India’s satellite communication will not get affected due to 5G services in high-bands with high-power transmission. Many alternative safeguards can be implemented to ensure zero interference between ISRO’s satellite communications and 5G services.

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