Expressing disappointment with the decision on private networks, the Association of Cellular Operators of India (COAI) called for a level playing field, stating that private network solution providers must pay a license fee and GST at the rates applicable to telecoms on invoiced revenue and that such closed networks must remain “truly” private and isolated and adhere to security standards.
In a letter to the Ministry of Telecommunications, COAI said that once a decision was made to allow closed networks by direct appropriation of spectrum, the government should limit the scope of such non-public networks to machine-to-machine communication within specific premises and automation.
Such networks must ensure that they do not interfere with public networks.
The COAI stated that, from a national security point of view, these networks must comply with the prescribed standards for subscriber verification in order to ensure adequate verification and traceability of each user.
Periodic audits must be conducted to ensure compliance, said COAI, whose members include Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea.
Detained networks should only receive spectrum in non-IMT / 5G / commercial bands, the COAI said, warning that failing to do so would lead to a lack of harmonized spectrum for telecom networks, inefficient use of valuable spectrum and loss of treasury.
“Currently, only 330 MHz in the average frequency and 2.85 GHz in mm wave are up for auction. “If other bands that are likely to be identified for IMT are not reserved / assigned to TSP, this will limit TSP (telecoms providers) to properly plan their network to meet customer demand in the medium and long term,” said the COAI. in his letter to DoT Secretary K Rajaraman.
However, India’s telecommunications regulator (Trai) “ignores the above issues” by recommending 3.7-3.8 GHz, 4.8-4.99 GHz and 28.5-29.5 GHz bands for detained private networks, said COAI.
In addition, the COAI suggested that closed private networks should be allocated spectrum only in the scope of non-mobile services and that IMT bandwidth should not be allocated to such private networks.
“Additional 2G, 3G and 4G technologies should not be allowed. DoT must conduct periodic evaluations to ensure that the allocated spectrum is fully utilized, “the statement said.
The settings of private networks using special spectrum must be subject to the same security conditions that apply to telecommunications – storage of call or data records for two years, command logs for three years, storage of records for software updates , data localization, remote access only in the country and no remote access outside India, the association writes.
“Some CNPNs can be very large, processing large numbers of users / employees and machines for whom legal interception is important. They should also be required to install LIS / LIM in accordance with TSP obligations, ”according to the COAI.
These networks need to remain truly private and isolated, the COAI said, noting that businesses that receive spectrum for closed networks are likely to be tempted to connect multiple offices.
“Such interconnectivity should not be allowed… The scope of CNPN (comprehensive non-public network) should be limited to the very intention to provide CNPN, ie M2M on-premises communication and plant automation,” said COAI.
Supported networks should be created by the end user, not by third parties, he stressed.
Therefore, like the unified licensee, CNPN owners must own all equipment installed for CNPN purposes and not lease / rent from third parties / intermediaries. Any third party that intends to provide / install and operate the CNPN network must obtain the spectrum through the same process as TSP, ”said COAI.
He also stressed that mass use cases cannot be part of closed networks and closed networks should not be connected to a foreign location / data center for reservation / disaster recovery / remote management.
The COAI also said that since “such solutions can be provided by licensed TSPs that have spectrum acquired through a transparent auction, the decision provider must pay a license fee and GST at the rates applicable to TSPs on the invoiced amount of the TSP. revenue to provide field-level play. ”
“In the case of a network installed for internal use, equivalent commercial value must be used. In both cases, it must be ensured that there is no sub-invoicing and no misappropriation occurs. Alternatively, the revenue earned by TSP from providing a CPN should be exempt from royalties and GST, ”said COAI.
He also proposed a “same service, same rule”, saying it would ensure investor confidence and continued investment in the sector to deploy future telecommunications networks.
“The rules applicable to CNPN must be applied to CPN / PNs provided by licensed TSPs. Otherwise, no investor will invest in a taxable portfolio when the same investment can be made without any tax burden along the CNPN route, “said COAI.
Trai must carry out initial and annual analysis and research, and such networks must provide the data required by the regulator from time to time.
CNPN must comply with the provisions of the National Security Directive applicable to TSP, including the supply of equipment from a trusted source. In addition, the applicable guidelines / instructions for security / laws / regulations must be applicable and applicable to CNPN networks in India, “said COAI.
These steps need to be taken to ensure orderly growth in the sector and maintain investor confidence.
“Accordingly, all guidelines for setting up a closed non-public network by receiving spectrum directly from DoT should only be issued after a study of DoT demand and subsequent Trai recommendations,” the COAI said.