Can e-Band Solve India’s Backhaul Bottleneck Challenge


At a time when India’s telcos are looking at providing 3G and 4G for their customers, this translates to delivering high speed and uninterrupted user experience involving rotation of huge amounts of data into their networks. This needs efficient Backhauling at the operator level and in its present form it is more of an issue today.

However, opening up on e-Band or better known as millimeter waves, can pave way for better and optimal usage of radio frequencies. Here is a look at why and how it can be done in India.

The e-Band is the range of radio frequencies from 60 GHz to 90 GHz in the electromagnetic spectrum. These frequencies are equivalent to wave lengths between 5 mm and 3.333 mm. At present this frequency is not permissible for commercial usage in India but holds big potential to be used as backhaul enabling infrastructure.

As we are moving towards a data regime, the millimeter wave spectrum above 70 GHz is a great option to backhaul data because it is especially suitable for high data-rate fixed links with cost effective, fiber-like wireless performance.

TRAI set to give its consultation paper on Backhaul 

Keeping in mind the miniscule broadband penetration in the country, India’s telecom regulator TRAI is set to give consultation paper on backhaul. The issue of backhaul hits hard on the way broadband connectivity moves ahead in not only big cities but smaller locations of the country and provisioning of e-Band can be discussed here as well.

Quite recently, Rahul Khullar, Chairman, TRAI has said that despite the fact that the government has set targets of achieving 600 million broadband subscribers by 2020 broadband, the India’s penetration of broadband is roughly about 20 million subscribers today.

“This is a very sad situation. We need broadband connectivity and the ongoing NOFN (National Optic Fiber Network) is really a bad experience. Today we have a situation where laying of the fiber is more expensive than the cost of the fiber itself. Right of Way (RoW) charge is too much. Telcos are paying to almost all the municipal authorities. This is a big issue that we must deal with quickly,” he added.

“Backhaul is surely a big challenge in today’s scenario and we would be coming out with a consultation paper to address issues in backhaul, very soon,” he added.

How E-band Licensing can be done?

In most of the countries, frequency regulators often employ formulas for finalizing a particular licensing fee that is based on either data rate transmission, bandwidth use, or sometimes both.  However, in the case of e-Band, new formulation of tariffs would be required.

It becomes important to note that globally speaking, the countries that have set up light licensing policies for e-Band have adopted new fee structures that clearly reflect the reduction in administration associated with the light license procedure. And on the other hand, some other countries have modified policy to avoid unfair discrimination against high bandwidth systems that operate in non-scarce spectrum.

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