The department of telecommunications (DoT) will soon issue a policy document outlining guidelines to enable the introduction of machine-to-machine (M2M) communication services in India, which will in turn facilitate the roll-out of the Internet of Things.

“Trai’s (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) recommendations are being deliberated right now…it has picked up pace and should not take much time…we expect most of Trai’s recommendations to be accepted," a person with direct knowledge of the matter said.

DoT had sought Trai’s views on the matter on 5 January, 2016 after which the regulator issued a consultation paper on 18 October, 2016 and held two open house discussions – in Delhi on 7 April, 2017 and in Mumbai on 26 May, 2017.

Subsequently, the regulator issued its recommendations on ‘spectrum, roaming and quality of service related requirements in machine-to-machine (M2M) communications’ on 5 September, 2017, in which it suggested that DoT should provide comprehensive guidelines for importing and manufacturing M2M devices in India and should issue registration guidelines for M2M service providers.

M2M communication, in general terms, can be used to describe any technology that enables networked devices to exchange information and carry out actions with minimal or no human intervention.

In M2M, sensors attached to a machine relay information of the events that the machine experiences to a central application that analyses this data and takes decisions in real time. M2M is a key component of Internet of Things, which has potential applications in areas such as transport, health, and smart cities, among others.

“Since data prices have fallen, we think M2M will be the next big source of revenue for operators," the person cited above said.

“We will issue clear norms as we expect a new class of M2M players to come in now…of course existing telcos will also be there," the person said, adding that the DoT would not wait for adoption of 5G to introduce these norms as M2M can be done on existing 4G technology as well.

Trai, in its recommendations, had also suggested delicensing 1 MHz of spectrum from the 867-868 MHz band and a chunk of 6 MHz of spectrum from the 915-935 MHz band in order to facilitate smooth roll-out of M2M services. It had also suggested delicensing the V-band (57-64 GHz) on priority.

Moreover, no separate spectrum band needs to be allocated exclusively for M2M services, the regulator had said, adding that it would revisit the need for more licensed spectrum for access services for M2M communication after the World Radiocommunication Conference in 2019.

DoT should identify critical services in the M2M sector and these must be provided only by players using licensed spectrum, Trai had said.

All access service providers using licensed access spectrum should be allowed to provide M2M connectivity within the area of their existing authorisations, the regulator had suggested, adding that all players holding a basic services licence and Internet service provider licence should be allowed to provide M2M connectivity, including on unlicensed bands, within the area of their existing authorisations, barring M2M cellular services.

Moreover, since quality of service norms fall under the regulator’s ambit, Trai said it would put in place comprehensive regulations on these parameters in M2M communication, once the sector develops.