Mumbai: The Wireless Planning and Coordination (WPC) wing of the department of telecom (DoT) has cleared the proposal to allot 3G and broadband wireless access (BWA) spectrum to state-owned telcom firms, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) within days of announcing the government's 3G spectrum policy by telecom minister Anbumani Raja.
DoT has approved release of one block of 3G spectrum each to BSNL and MTNL. The communication minister has approved the release of one block to MTNL in Delhi and Mumbai/metro service areas. He has also approved the release of another block to BSNL for other service areas.
The approval will give the two government-owned telephone companies a first-mover advantage over private operators. The spectrum blocks released for the two companies have the size of 2x5 MHz in 2.1 GHz band, an official release said.
Raja also approved the release of a block of 20 MHz BWA spectrum each to both the public sector undertakings. The spectrum block released for the two companies will be in the 2.5 GHz band at 2645.0 MHz.
Besides this special consideration for BSNL and MTNL, 3G /BWA spectrum would be allocated through an auction process to be conducted by a specialised agency. For the spectrum blocks released to them, BSNL and MTNL will pay a price equal to the highest bid in the respective service areas.
''The assessment of spectrum allotment and utilisation records available with the WPC wing reveals that some spectrum in 1920-1980 MHz band is not allotted to defence services and thus appears to be available, which could be considered for earmarking on a trial basis to MTNL for 3G services. MTNL will get these frequency bands paired with 2110-2170 MHz bands. It shall pay spectrum charges equal to the highest bid to be determined by the auction for each service area from the date of earmarking of frequencies. After completion of the auction, a demand note will be raised to MTNL for making the payment within 30 days,'' the WPC said in its communication to the DoT. The WPC has sent a similar recommendation for BSNL also.
The government also approved a proposal to waive annual licence fees in terms of AGR on BSNL's rural wire-lines.
The government will allocate up to Rs2,000 crore per annum from its USO fund to compensate loss from operations from rural connections resulted by removal of ADC by TRAI.
Third generation radio frequencies will enable telcos to offer high-end services on mobiles, such as interactive gaming, movies and video conferencing.
BSNL has been given a target of providing 10 million broadband connections by 2010, but it had only 1.7 million customers at present who availed high-speed internet on optic fibre. ''BSNL is planning to achieve this target of broadband using 3G and WiMAX as these wireless technologies are easier to install and rollout,'' the WPC said.