Rail ministry looking for sought-after 700MHz airwaves

25 Jun 2019

Sector watchdog the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has published a consultation document seeking input on the proposed allocation of 700MHz spectrum to Indian Railways (IR) for an LTE-based network for passenger safety and security services. The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) passed on the Ministry of Railway’s proposal to the TRAI in February this year, requesting the regulator’s recommendations on the administrative allocation of spectrum to IR, the appropriate frequency band, amount of spectrum and price.

At present, a 2×1.6MHz block of spectrum in the 900MHz band has been assigned to the government-run firm for its GSM-Railway (GSM-R) network, but IR wants to upgrade the system to create an ‘ultra-high-speed wireless corridor’ along its network that would cater to current and future data and voice needs for train-ground and train-train communications. To that end, the company has requested a 2×15MHz block of 700MHz frequencies, starting with at least. Further, as the spectrum would not be for commercial use but for public safety services, it has argued that it should be allocated free of cost. In its reference to the TRAI, however, the DoT noted that 2×10MHz in the 700MHz has already been reserved or the defence ministry, whilst the remaining 2×35MHz should be auctioned for 4G and 5G services. In its place, the DoT suggesting issuing spectrum in the 450MHz-470MHz range but IR has argued that the band was unsuitable for its needs.

The TRAI is accepting comments on the consultation paper until 22 July 2019.