The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has published its recommendations on the establishment of a next generation emergency network that would support a wide range of additional applications, as the current analogue and digital systems are currently only able to provide narrowband voice and data communications. The TRAI recommends that that the government establish a pan-India Broadband Public Protection and Disaster Relief Network (to be dubbed the ‘National BB-PPDR Network’) based on the Public Safety-LTE (PS-LTE) technology standard. To that end, the government should set up a special purpose vehicle (SPV) under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to plan and coordinate the implementation of the BB-PPDR and handle its subsequent operation; the TRAI’s recommendations also set out a framework for the SPV to work alongside the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and existing PPDR agencies.
For the rollout, the regulator suggested that the deployment in areas such as the metro cities, border districts, disaster-prone areas and other sensitive areas like Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and the North East should be funded by the government and carried out by state-owned firms Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL). Elsewhere, the TRAI recommended that existing commercial networks could be leveraged through any telecom service provider, though ‘stringent’ service level agreements (SLAs) should be put in place to ensure that operators provide mobile base transceiver stations and backpack devices in cases where the terrestrial network is made unusable. The TRAI recommended that a 2×10MHz block of dedicated spectrum – specifically the 814MHz-824MHz/859MHz-869MHz block – should be allocated nationwide to the SPV on a no-cost basis for the network, whilst a further 20MHz in the 440MHz-470MHz range should be set aside for future development of the network. The TRAI’s preference for the latter allocation was the 450MHz-470MHz block.