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DoT proposes exclusive spectrum band for defence to facilitate auction

13 November 2014

The Department of Telecom (DoT) has suggested the creation of an exclusive spectrum band for the defence services in exchange for the spectrum held by them, which could be made available for commercial purposes. A proposal in this regard will be soon presented before the union cabinet.

The defence ministry currently holds 300 MHz spectrum with it, out of which it has agreed to release 150 MHz to the DoT for commercial services, sources said, adding that there is no certainty as to how much spectrum would be actually made available.

Creation of a separate band for the defence services would facilitate release of around 150 MHz of spectrum in 1700-2000 MHz band for use in commercial 3G and 4G services, sources pointed out.

Meanwhile, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has recommended against holding spectrum auctions in February without adequate spectrum to be licensed since the Telecom Commission has rejected the possibility of getting additional airwaves from defence services in the near future.

The Telecom Commission has also not approved the various suggestions made by telecom regulator Trai. The Telecom Commission said DoT is working on getting the necessary airwaves vacated but it is unlikely to happen in time to be put for the coming auction.

Trai chairman Rahul Khullar is also reported to have made it clear that the tussle between defence services and DoT cannot be solved at the bureaucratic level and that it needs a political solution.

Further, an internal committee of DoT that studied Trai's recommendations has rejected the suggestion that spectrum be taken back from the state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd, saying that the licensor does not have the jurisdiction to take back spectrum until it expires.

The inter-ministerial panel has also sent back Trai's recommendation given in February for 800 MHz (CDMA) spectrum band for reconsidering some points.

GSM industry body Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has approached the prime minister's office to get the recommendations implemented for the next round of auction proposed in February, next year.

"If the proposed spectrum auction to be held in February 2015 is conducted with completely inadequate spectrum, it will put investments of thousands of crores of rupees and continuity of service to millions of customers at huge risk," COAI said in a letter to Nripendra Mishra, principal secretary to the prime minister.

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