Not against 5G, but govt should secure our band: Broadcasters

A Guard Band between the end of 5G band at 3.7GHz and the start of the satellite television band at 3.7GHz can help solve the problem of clashing frequencies, say experts

e4m by Tasmayee Laha Roy
Updated: Apr 7, 2021 2:41 PM

After two new tariff orders, lockdown-induced losses and an ongoing ratings controversy, broadcasters now feel the pressure of saving the day from 5G interruptions. While broadcasters are not against 5G services, their only apprehension is around potential disruption in satellite television services.

Mostly all C-Band satellites use the band of frequencies between 3.7 GHz and 4.2 GHz for their downlinks. Since most television channels operate between 3.7 GHz and 4.9 GHz, broadcasters fear interruption in signals as spectrum in the range of 3.00 GHz to 3.6 GHz has been identified for 5G usages in the country.

According to broadcasters, 5G should be rolled out but it should not hamper the satellite TV viewing.

“5G will play a crucial role in boosting new opportunities this year by radically transforming operations and enabling companies to deliver new products and services. Consequently, it will bring tremendous growth opportunities to the M&E industry in the long term. In fact, with faster speed and lower latency, 5G has the potential to redefine convergence media. However, it is likely to disrupt the satellite television landscape as broadcasters will be bearing the cost of repurposing their leased C-band frequency. Government intervention, therefore, would be necessary at this point to ensure that the existing licensees & news channels who are serving public interest are protected at all costs. Broadcasters will be looking at subsidies from the government in case they have to move to suitable bands or higher frequencies,” said a senior broadcaster on the condition of anonymity. 

However, the technical side of the story is not the only concern for broadcasters.

“It is possible that many satellite television broadcasters and operators may be priced out of the market which could have a large impact on the direct and indirect workforce employed by them leading to higher unemployment in an industry that has already been forced to skim their manpower due to the financial burdens imposed by the ongoing pandemic,” said a GEC broadcaster.

According to domain experts, a Guard Band between the end of 5G band at 3.7GHz and the start of the satellite television band at 3.7GHz can help solve the problem of clashing frequencies. Non-compliance of the same would require satellite television channels to move to higher frequencies.

Broadcasters, however, are not comfortable with the idea of migrating to higher frequencies because of the cost of doing the same.

“Should there be a need to move to higher frequencies, we would want the government to intervene and provide us with subsidies to do the same. We are happy to welcome 5G if the government ensures that 5G will not disrupt our systems, and in case it does, there would be appropriate measures taken to mitigate the setback. There should be an end to the challenges thrown at us one after the other in the last two years,” said another broadcaster on the condition of anonymity.

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