In order to realize fully the socio-economic benefits of 3G/IMT-2000 networks and services, industry body The UMTS Forum (www.umts-forum.org) has urged India to align its mobile spectrum allocations with the internationally harmonised WARC-92 band plan.
Many UMTS Forum Member organizations - including global vendors - are increasingly concerned about moves to find a separate band plan allocation in India outside of the WARC-92 band (1920-1980 MHz/2110-2170 MHz). This WARC-92 band is internationally harmonised for all 3G/IMT-2000 technologies and today offers a global spectrum for all 3G/IMT-2000 technologies including UMTS/WCDMA and CDMA2000.
In identifying the WARC-92 band for 3G/IMT-2000 back in 1992, the ITU - the United Nation's International Telecommunications Union - realised the importance of long-term stability in spectrum policy. Through economies of scale, globally harmonised spectrum will make a major contribution to connecting the unconnected.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is currently considering proposals to release spectrum in the PCS-1900 band (1850-1910 MHz paired with 1930-1990 MHz), which directly overlaps and clashes with the ITU-R identified WARC-92 band, identified globally for 3G services. If this ?PCS-1900? band is allocated in India in a way that it is impairing the WARC-92 band, then in future, the Indian 3G mobile users will not have full benefits of global roaming and economies of scale related to global spectrum band availability and greater availability of different types of user equipment.
"Introducing other band plans at the WARC-92 band frequencies would impair the feasibility of IMT 2000 implementation due to additional cost and complexity to all parties", stated UMTS Forum Chairman Jean-Pierre Bienaim, speaking this week at the 3G World Congress & Exhibition in Hong Kong. "India's dynamic IT and telecom industries could suffer directly as a consequence", he added.
With just 8.24 telephone connections (fixed and mobile) per hundred inhabitants, mobile is central to India's drive to improve access to telecommunications. Today in India, mobile penetration is 4.1% but it is increasing with huge growth potential. In the first 10-months of this year, India's GSM operators have connected almost 13 million new users. In India, 80% of mobile users are GSM based and therefore GSM cannot be excluded from the natural evolution to 3G/IMT-2000.
The UMTS Forum has been actively involved with TRAI, the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of India, in the discussions on Indian 3G spectrum allocations since April this year. UMTS Forum has contributed to TRAI consultation on spectrum related issues (31st May, 2004) and especially provided technical material on potential interference on mixed band plan scenarios at WARC-92 bands.
3G Mobile Spectrum for India: UMTS Forum Messages
1. "ITU 3G/IMT-2000 WARC-92 band is for all ITU 3G/IMT-2000 technologies"
The 3G/IMT-2000 WARC-92 band is internationally harmonized for all 3G/IMT-2000 technologies. This is driving the global 3G business development, engaging governments, investors and financial institutions, and all the world's telecom players. Introducing other band plans at the WARC-92 band frequencies would impair the feasibility of IMT-2000 implementation due to additional cost and complexity to all parties.
2. "The greatest benefits for India only come by synchronising with the global market"
The most common mobile spectrum evolution has been and is 900 MHz to 1800 to 1900/2100 to 2500/2690 MHz, since this is the main market development in global scale. Refarming of 2G bands for IMT-2000 systems (e.g. in 900 MHz and 1800 MHz bands) is expected to come later.
3. "Spectrum allocations should reflect market reality"
Spectrum allocations for mobile operators should reflect the market reality. The Indian mobile market broadly aligns with the international experience. GSM, which constitutes 80% of the Indian market, cannot be denied its timely and logical evolution to 3G.
4. "India needs 3G/IMT-2000 now"
The 3G wave is coming to India, bringing enhanced capabilities and more spectrum efficiency, even for voice, initially for fast growing urban markets, to increase teledensity performance, and to further stimulate economic activity in India, including development of export markets. IMT-2000 WARC-92 band spectrum is available, and its earliest assignment for 3G use is the highest priority for ensuring India's participation and prosperity in the world's most important international telecommunications project. Already today GSM/WCDMA systems are commercially operational in WARC-92 bands in India's major trading partner markets throughout Asia, Europe and North America.