To strengthen the country's communication networks in case of natural or man-made disasters, telecom regulator TRAI has recommended setting up of a pan-India broadband public protection disaster relief (PPDR) communication network, based on 3GPP PS-LTE technology.
Existing PPDR networks in the country are analog and digital systems that support narrow band voice and data communications. The introduction of advanced broadband PPDR communication networks will act as a great enabler in decision making.
In its recommendations released on Monday, TRAI said a hybrid model of broadband PPDR network should be set up in India. A dedicated network for BB-PPDR communication funded by government should be created in metro cities, border districts, and disaster-prone areas and other sensitive areas like Jammu and Kashmir, and the North East by PSUs like BSNL/MTNL.
The existing commercial network can be leveraged in other regions through any telecom service provider.
The regulator recommended creating a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) under the ministry of home affairs to plan, coordinate, and steer the nationwide broadband PPDR communication network, besides implementation and subsequent operation.
Operators should be mandated to provide mobile BTS and backpack devices in case of disaster when terrestrial network gets damaged/ dysfunctional.
An advisory committee including representatives from public safety, state government, central government, and Ministry of Communications, should provide domain-specific advice to the SPV for conception, implementation, operation, and maintenance of the broadband PPDR communication network.
The department of telecom should work out timelines to phase out existing analog networks in PPDR.
Also, new spectrum assignments may be done only for deploying digital equipment. It is recommended to carry out pilot tests before implementing the broadband PPDR dedicated network (dedicated spectrum and network), funded by the government, at five zones identified as disaster prone/sensitive areas to evaluate the efficacy of the proposed network.
The plan for migration of existing legacy equipment on to the new network is to be formulated after conducting a comprehensive study during this pilot testing, TRAI said.
A dedicated spectrum for this communication network needs to be identified. TRAI said 2x10 MHz (814-824/859-869 MHz) of dedicated spectrum should be allocated nationwide to the SPV on no-cost basis for LTE based broadband PPDR networks. Twenty megahertz of spectrum in the frequency range 440-470 MHz (preferably 450-470 MHz) should be allocated for future evolution of broadband PPDR. For both these recommendations, necessary amendments may be carried out in the NFAP accordingly.