GSA calls on India to seize the 3G opportunity now

By siliconindia staff writer   |   Wednesday, 20 October 2004, 07:00 Hrs
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BANGALORE: In its consultation on spectrum “Efficient Utilisation, Spectrum Allocation, and Spectrum Pricing” TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) proposes to allocate frequencies in the US PCS band (1850-1910 MHz paired with 1930-1990 MHz) to existing CDMA operators.

GSA rejects this proposal since the upper frequencies conflict with the internationally agreed IMT-2000 spectrum plan identified by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) for 3G/IMT-2000 systems, which support both WCDMA (GSM path to 3G) and cdma2000 (CDMA path to 3G) systems developed for deployment on a fully co-existing basis, thus ensuring all operators and users benefit from 3G for enhanced voice and data services, the largest scale economies, and international roaming.

Deployment of the US PCS band plan, wholly or partially, which incorporates a number of duplex reversals, would cause severe interference between current (2G) CDMA base stations and users of 3G systems (e.g. WCDMA and cdma2000), greatly reducing service quality and performance of 3G systems, raising costs, restricting competition, and laying to waste precious spectrum, which cannot be mitigated against in practical situations. As a result, the path for GSM and CDMA customers to 3G-enabled voice and data services, already enjoyed by over 10 million people in Asia and Europe, would be blocked. No other countries have allowed a mixed plan; India would be isolated from the global mobile community. GSA has voiced serious concerns during the on-going consultation process, based on technical facts and business considerations, showing clearly that the mixed band proposal must be rejected. The key issues are:

(i) Granting of additional spectrum only to be considered after current spectrum has been exhausted, operators having demonstrated deployment of all reasonable technical options and practices being equivalent to measures undertaken by operators deploying other technology, ensuring a level competitive playing field.

(ii) CDMA operators can already deploy services in the 1800 MHz band as prescribed in the National Frequency Allocation Plan and in operating licenses, with minimal impact on other cellular technology (i.e. GSM). CDMA equipment suitable for use at 1800 MHz is widely available commercially in Korea from several infrastructure suppliers. There were 131 handset models in the market serving 17.6 million users at end June 2004 (source: EMC). GSA sees no barrier to 1800 MHz commercialization in India.

(iii) The current plan in India is to use the globally harmonized IMT-2000 band only for 3G/IMT-2000 systems, as specified by the ITU. IMT-2000 Core Band spectrum is available today in India and can be allocated for 3G/IMT-2000 services. Expert analysis shows that implementation of a mixed US PCS/IMT-2000 band plan would necessitate extensive use of additional complex, costly, non-standardized filtering in all base stations, wide “guard bands”, intensive site co-ordination between operators, more base stations, and reduce network performance for all operators. Evidence shows that such mitigation techniques are unlikely to be adopted and does not work in practice for cellular environments with high site densities.

(iv) No mitigation techniques exist to protect against 3G/IMT-2000 handsets (WCDMA or cdma2000) interfering with cdma 1x handsets, as standardization does not take into account a mixed band plan, hence no action has been taken to limit handset emissions.

For these practical and business considerations, deployment of a mixed plan is not feasible for India. This is also the situation throughout the world. Alan Hadden, President, GSA, said: “The solution is to move to 3G as quickly as possible. The IMT2000 core band is standardized to accommodate both WCDMA and cdma2000 technologies, and there are no harmful interference mechanisms between the two technologies when deployed in the IMT2000 core band, e.g. as in Japan since 2003. GSM and CDMA operators would be able to address short-term capacity needs for both voice and data, as soon as the band is allocated to them. Since no frequency band is wasted, both GSM and cdma operators would have a much greater amount of spectrum available to meet their future needs. All operators would compete on a truly level playing field, with enough capacity and with access to their logical evolution path, on equal terms. This would stimulate competition to a new level; Indian consumers and enterprises will benefit, and help the economy to further grow.”

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