Centre for Internet & Society

Centre for Internet & Society and the Ford Foundation are delighted to bring you the Unlicensed Spectrum Policy brief for Government of India. The policy brief authored by Satya N Gupta, Sunil Abraham and Yelena Gyulkhandanyan contains an Executive Summary and eight chapters. The research aims to recommend unlicensed spectrum policy to the Government of India based on recent developments in wireless technology, community needs and international best practices.

Executive Summary

The aim of this policy brief is to recommend unlicensed spectrum policy to the Indian Government based on recent developments in wireless technology, community needs and international best practices. We seek to demonstrate the need for and importance of unlicensed spectrum as a medium for inexpensive connectivity in rural/remote areas and source of innovation by serving as a barrier-free and cost-effective platform for testing and implementing of new technologies.

The specific frequency bands that we request for unlicensing are: 433-434 MHz, 902-928 MHz, 1880-1900 MHz, 2483-2500 MHz, 5150-5350 MHz, and 5725-5775 MHz. These demands reflect the widespread market adoption in countries where these bands have already become unlicensed.

Interference concerns to licensed users, which are the predominant reason for the limited allocation of unlicensed spectrum, are greatly diminished. Interference-free spectrum use by multiple operators is enabled by the short-range, low-power nature of most of the technologies operating in these spectrum bands, as well as innovative techniques that facilitate spectrum sharing.

Technological advancements such as Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN), Ultra Wide Band (UWB), Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), Near -Field Communication (NFC) systems, and others have demonstrated that when an opportunity for cost-efficient and flexible spectrum usage is presented in the form of unlicensed spectrum, the market is likely to respond through innovation and expansion.

The value of unlicensed spectrum in bridging the digital divide has been demonstrated through community wireless networking projects as well as inexpensive ITES (IT enabled services) operating on unlicensed spectrum that have been created to spread connectivity to digitally-marginalized areas. As demonstrated by numerous case studies, such networks administer e-learning, e-commerce, telemedicine, e-agriculture, and many other initiatives that lead to equitable social and economic growth, making unlicensed spectrum a “public good”.

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), European Union telecom regulatory bodies, as well as leading state telecom policy makers and regulators such as the FCC (U.S. Federal Communications Commission) and OFCOM (UK Office of Communications) have recognized that the optimal use of radio spectrum is dependent on flexible spectrum management policies and the multi-time sharing of this precious resource. Of late, the relevance of unlicensed spectrum is being recognized by policy makers in India as well. This is evident from the National Telecom Policy 2012, as well as recent remarks on the subject made by senior government officials.

Download the Unlicensed Spectrum Policy brief for Government of India below:

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