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Stalemate on spectrum

New Delhi, Sept. 7: The group of ministers (GoM) on spectrum could not reach any conclusion in its first meeting to prepare a roadmap for spectrum distribution.

However, the ministries of telecom and defence still do not see eye-to-eye on vacating spectrum.

“Discussions are on over technical issues related to spectrum vacation,” said communications minister A. Raja.

He added that a sub-committee on spectrum vacation would be formed which would constitute members from the ministries of defence and telecom.

“The sub-committee on spectrum release would define ways and means of releasing adequate radio waves at locations that need frequency on an urgent basis,” said Raja. However, the minister could not say when the next meeting of the GoM would be held or at what stage were plans for release of spectrum by defence forces.

The defence ministry is expected to release 50Mhz of spectrum for voice as well as 3G services by December. However, it is reluctant to do so without having an alternative and secure communications network in place.

An MoU on the alternative network was supposed to be signed today. However, this did not happen.

Bharat Sanchar Nigam is setting up a secure, high-bandwidth optical fibre network for the defence forces. But it is yet to make much headway.

“This medium on optic fibre cable would have the same level of security that the defence services have now and shifting to the alternative media would not jeopardise security in any manner,” said officials of the telecom department.

“However, the cost of phase I of spectrum vacation has increased to Rs 1,100 crore compared with Rs 980 crore projected for the entire job,” said DoT officials.

The Planning Commission has till now allocated Rs 150 crore to the DoT for setting up the optic fibre cable network.

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