TRAI starts consultation for 4G telephony

The telecom regulator has started the process and would come out with a consultation paper to look into various issues relating to 4G telecom services, even as the Indian government debates over the auction of 3G spectrum

Even as the government debates as to when the auction of spectrum for 3G telephony will take place, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Monday started consultation for the next level of telecom services, reports PTI.

The fourth generation or 4G technology offers download at faster speeds known as ultra-broadband and high-definition video on demand, among other such services.

"We are starting the process and would come out with a consultation paper to look into various issues relating to 4G telecom services," TRAI chairman JS Sarma said.

He, however, said categorically that this is not a suggestion to skip the 3G process, as the government has taken definitive steps and may auction the spectrum soon.

"3G has been delayed badly. I don't want 4G or LTE (Long Term Evolution) to meet the same fate. Other countries are catching up with 4G and that is why we are taking advance action," he said.

4G or LTE is a successor to 3G and 2G standards, with the aim of providing a wide range of data rates up to ultra-broadband (gigabit-speed) Internet access to mobile as well as stationary users.

TRAI would look into the various aspects, including spectrum band to be allotted for 4G service and quantum and modes of allotment to the operators.

Mr Sarma said that the consultation paper will be issued “very shortly”. The paper would throw up various questions for the industry and other stakeholders for deliberation, culminating into recommendations by the TRAI.

In fact, a number of foreign players like US-based Motorola and Ericsson have already started testing 4G or LTE technology in various parts of the world.

Asked whether the government has sought recommendations from TRAI for 4G telephony, Mr Sarma said, "TRAI is required to examine various issues concerning 4G and we do not want it to be delayed like 3G and that is why we have started the process.”

"In fact, when I had taken up charge as TRAI chairman, I had said that we should be technologically ready. When we start is a different process," he added.

Motorola had recently said that it would be approaching the Department of Telecom (DoT) to seek spectrum for testing its equipment.

Motorola has become the first telecom vendor to complete throughput up to 70 Mbps, a senior official working with the company said, adding that the LTE technology can be offered in 2.1-2.3 MHz spectrum band and DoT is looking at the availability of this frequency.

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