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5G: US’s Pai, Trai’s Vaghela back light touch regulation of telecom industry

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NEW DELHI: The telecom regulators of India and the US said the industry needed a light touch regulatory environment to encourage investments and innovation, especially keeping 5G in mind, and added that security of networks is also of critical importance.

“FCC (Federal Communications Commission) has aggressively promoted the 5G deployment through freeing more spectrum for commercial purpose, making it easier to deploy the wireless infrastructure, and modernizing regulations to promote fibre deployments,” outgoing chairman of the US telecom regulator Ajit Pai said during a discussion at the India Mobile Congress on Wednesday.

Reiterating the US view on risks posed by Chinese telecom equipment maker Huawei, Pai highlighted that world needed to collaborate for industry-led innovation in 5G in areas such as Open RAN to facilitate secure networks and reduce dependency on traditional telecom network equipment providers.

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) Chairman PD Vaghela added that since 5G adoption was expected to introduce new business models, regulation needed to be light touch in nature.

“In fact, in some cases, there should be no regulation,” Vaghela, who took over as the new chairman in October, said. Vaghela added that the country needed to chart out a roadmap and action points on 5G technology even before going in for the auctions.

Representatives from Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Reliance Jio also urged the government to make available more quantum of airwaves to deploy 5G while Facebook emphasised on incentivising alternate technologies to expand the broadband coverage.

“At the currently proposed reserve price, the price of 100 Mhz of 5G turns out to Rs 50,000 crore, that is a lot of money,” Rahul Vatts chief regulatory officer at Bharti Airtel said.

Vats further called upon the government to allow telcos industrial rates for power since 5G networks required double the amount of power consumed in deploying 4G technology. He also urged the government for immediate clarity on the E & the V bands in order to line up backhaul strategies.

Vodafone Idea’s chief regulatory officer, P Balaji, said having just four players in telecom ensured spectrum wouldn’t be fragmented as large spectrum holdings were vital for 5G technology deployment. However, he too said the policies were needed to aid the densification of fibre – from the current 35% of towers being fiberized to about 80% – for successful deployment of 5G.

Ravi Gandhi, chief regulatory and public policy officer at Reliance Jio Infocomm, joined the other operators in calling for easing the right of way issue, which the industry unanimously said will be a major roadblock in successful implementation of 5G networks.

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