COAI demands WiFi 6E router action

08 May 2024

The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has demanded that the government restrict sales of WiFi 6E routers that use the 6GHz spectrum band, which has not yet been officially designated an unlicenced band.

A letter from COAI that was sent to the Department of Telecommunication claimed that e-commerce platforms such as Amazon, Flipkart and Moglix were selling WiFi 6E routers, as were some offline traders.

WiFi 6E enables WiFi 6 to use the 6GHz band to provide a superfast, low latency ‘fast lane’ for compatible devices and apps. However, the 6-GHz band is a highly contentious one between the cellular and WiFi sectors in India, despite the World Radio Conference 2023 (WRC-23) harmonising the upper 6 GHz band (6.425-7.125GHz) globally for mobile services.

In India, the 6 GHz band is currently partly used by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for its satellite operations. The DoT has yet to decide how to reallocate the band.

Both the COAI and the GSMA have lobbied the DoT to release the band to mobile operators who need the extra spectrum for 5G and upcoming 6G services. The Broadband India Forum wants the DoT to make it a new unlicensed band that can be used to create affordable public WiFi services in rural areas. Under the WRC framework, India has up to 2027 to make a decision on the upper 6GHz band.

Until then, COAI director general SP Kochhar said that the DoT should ban sales of WiFi 6E routers because they cannot legally use the 6GHz band. Moreover, even if the DoT eventually decides to make the 6GHz band unlicenced, consumers would be held legally liable for using WiFi 6E routers making unauthorized transmissions in the meantime.