The debate over public and captive private 5G network heated up on Thursday as Broadband India Forum (BIF) sent a letter to Telecommunications Secretary K. Rajaraman, saying it is disappointing to observe certain objections, misrepresentations, and misinformation on this aspect being voiced and publicised in certain quarters.
The letter, seen by IANS, told the Telecom Secretary that it has been alleged in some recent reports that the decision on Captive Non-Public Networks (CNPN) by the government has been taken based on certain misquoted international practices, particularly of Germany.
"We submit that the premise of this objection is incorrect. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommendations had appropriately specified the international best practices of a number of countries, including Germany, Finland, the UK, France, Sweden, South Korea, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Australia, Czech Republic, Japan, Taiwan, France, etc.," read the letter.
In fact, the regulatory authority in Germany has said that for many enterprises, operating a campus network is linked to introducing new, digital business processes.
"The provision of numbers represents a key contribution to the spread of digital technology. It benefits both large industrial enterprises as well as small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) wanting to operate private campus networks with their own broadband spectrum assignments and numbers," the German regulator said recently.
The BIF letter said that after the government's decision to enable CNPNs, there have been suggestions from some quarters proposing various conditions to be imposed on them.
"These conditions range from subjecting CNPNs to subscriber verification norms, EMF compliance, non-interference with other networks, confined usage to the allotted areas, restrictions on third parties/vendors, among others," according to the letter.
Since CNPNs have now been permitted by the government with due approval from the Cabinet, "there seems to be an attempt now to dilute the terms of reference by seeking the inclusion of onerous and irrelevant conditions, which is intended to make it unworkable for CNPNs", said the letter.
The Department of Telecom has released a notice inviting applications (NIA) for the auction of spectrum in 600, 700, 800, 900, 1800, 2100, 2300, 2500, 3300 MHz and 26GHz bands.
The NIA provides explicit clarity on the subject of Captive Non-Public Networks (CNPN).
"The Section 2.4 of the NIA on CNPN has laid down the principle that a CNPN can be set up in any of the four possible ways, including the one where CNPNs for non-telecom verticals may obtain the spectrum directly from DoT and establish their own isolated network," read the BIF letter.
The TRAI, in its recommendations, has also clearly stated the rationale for including direct allocation of spectrum to non-telecom verticals/enterprises for Captive Non-Public Networks.
The BIF said that the demand for a level playing field between public and captive private 5G networks are being irrationally raised by some quarters.
"The age-old and time-tested concept of 'level playing field' cannot apply in the case of CNPNs, as they have several distinctive traits which distinguish them from Public Networks, with whom they are being compared without any apparent logic or basis," said the BIF.
As India prepares for long-delayed 5G spectrum next month, top industry stakeholders have locked horns over the issue of public and private 5G networks and whether the government should allow spectrum directly to the enterprises for operating private captive 5G networks.
The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), the industry's apex body representing telcos, is of the firm opinion that there is no justification whatsoever for allocating spectrum to industry verticals for operating private captive networks.
"There is no need to alienate spectrum directly to companies for captive private networks," says the COAI in its position paper.a