Telecom regulator TRAI has recommended allocating 5 MHz spectrum in the prime 700 MHz band to Indian Railways for its captive use in areas such as passenger information display system and live feed of video surveillance and other public safety and security services needs.
"Spectrum may be assigned to Indian Railways on administrative basis for captive use only and not to offer any commercial services such as WiFi onboard," Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) said in a statement outlining its latest recommendations on the issue.
TRAI suggested that spectrum charges be levied on formula basis as prescribed by Telecom Department for Royalty Charges and Licence Fee for captive use.
"Out of the 35 MHz (paired) spectrum available in 700 MHz band, 5 MHz (paired) spectrum may be allocated to Indian Railways for implementing ...MC PTT (Mission Critical Push To Talk), Voice, Internet of Things based asset monitoring services, passenger information display system and live feed of Video Surveillance of few coaches at a time," TRAI said.
The remaining 30 MHz in 700 MHz band may be put up for bidding in the forthcoming auction, TRAI said.
Releasing its recommendations on allotment of spectrum to Indian Railways for Public Safety and Security services, TRAI noted that the Telecom Department in February 2019 had informed that Railways has proposed to install an Ultra-high-speed Long Term Evolution (LTE) based corridor along their network for 'train-ground' and 'train-train' communication.
Indian Railways had urged Telecom Department to reserve 15 MHz of spectrum in 700 MHz band for the purpose, and to start with 10 MHz to be allocated free of cost; Railways had emphasised that the proposal was devoid of any commercial gain, and instead aimed at enhancing security and passenger amenities.
The government then requested TRAI to provide its recommendations on administrative allotment of spectrum to Indian Railways and the quantum, price, appropriate frequency band for the same.
"To implement the Video Surveillance System for all coaches of the Train (Security services), Indian Railways may explore other communications means such as- dumping the Video Surveillance data to the system using high capacity WiFi when the train reaches a station....Using Public Telecommunication Network (TSPs network) for sending continuous video surveillance data streams to its control center," TRAI said.
The regulator further said that efficient and timely utilization of spectrum should 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 upon migration to LTE based network, it added.
"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 adding it should be ensured that there is no interference to the Railways' network from such use.