On 27 June 2022, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) released the guidelines for (i) captive non-public network (CNPN) license (CNPN Guidelines); and (ii) leasing of spectrum to CNPN licensee (collectively, the Guidelines). CNPN means a terrestrial wireless telecommunication network established for captive use within a specified geographical area.
The Guidelines allow private enterprises to access or set up their own private isolated networks by allowing such enterprise to lease access spectrum from the telecom service providers (TSPs) or by obtaining the spectrum directly from the DoT. The CNPN Guidelines provide for a light touch licensing regime as compared to the Unified License1 (UL) regime.
The Guidelines have been issued in line with the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) recommendations dated 11 April 2022 on ‘Auction of Spectrum in frequency bands identified for IMT/5G’ (TRAI Recommendations). The TRAI Recommendations were issued pursuant to the DoT’s request to provide recommendations on the quantum of spectrum band that can be earmarked for private captive/isolated 5G networks.
As per the Guidelines, CNPN could play a significant role in providing secure, reliable, low latency and high throughput communication to enterprises, especially for emerging technologies such as Long Range (LoRa) and machine to machine (M2M). LoRa is a long range, low power, wireless communications technology used for internet of things (IoT) and M2M applications. M2M communication enables devices in a network or machines to exchange information and perform functions without or with minimal human intervention. M2M communication offers use cases across various industry verticals, e.g., smart devices such as wearable health devices, self-driving cars and smart electric metering.
The Guidelines provide the framework for TSPs and enterprises for setting up CNPNs. There are four different methods of setting up a CNPN:
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