Trai favours allocating 5MHz spectrum in 700 MHz band to railways for captive use

Trai favours allocating 5MHz spectrum in 700 MHz band to railways for captive use

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has recommended administrative allocation of 5 MHz spectrum in the premium 700 MHz band to Indian Railways for its captive use to offer public safety and security services. The authority though said that spectrum charges may be levied on the railways as per the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) formula prescribed for captive use.

There is 35 MHz (paired) spectrum available in 700 MHz band and after allocation of 5 MHz to railways, the remaining shall be put up for sale in the upcoming auction, the regulator said.

“Spectrum may be assigned to Indian Railways on administrative basis for captive use only and not to offer any commercial services like Wi-Fi onboard,” Trai said in its recommendations. The regulator further said efficient and timely utilisation of spectrum be ensured through a process of periodical monitoring. “Further, the 1.6 MHz spectrum already assigned to Indian Railways in 900 MHz band may be taken back from railways upon migration to LTE based network,” the regulator said.

As per the reserve price proposed by Trai last year, a pan-India 5 MHz block in 700 MHz band costs Rs 32,840 crore.

“…5 MHz (paired) spectrum may be allocated to India Railways for implementing…IoT based asset monitoring services, passenger information display system and live feed of video surveillance of few coaches at a time,” Trai said. It also proposed that to implement video surveillance of all coaches, railways should explore to use telecom operators network for sending continuous data streams to its control center and also explore the option of dumping the video surveillance data to the system using high capacity Wi-Fi when the train reaches a station.

“As Indian Railways would be using the assigned spectrum along its railway track network and stations only, DoT may explore the possibility of assigning the same spectrum in other areas for area-specific limited use to other entities for captive use,” Trai said.

The DoT, in February 2019, had informed Trai that Railways proposed to install an Ultra-high-speed Long Term Evolution (LTE) based corridor along their network for ‘train-ground’ and ‘train-train’ communication.