The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Monday date for spectrum fate

New Delhi, Aug. 18: Telecom minister A. Raja will meet defence minister A.K. Antony and external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee on Monday to chalk out a plan to allocate spectrum to mobile service providers. Mukherjee also heads the group of ministers on telecom spectrum.

The Planning Commission has allocated Rs 150 crore to the department of telecommunications (DoT) this fiscal to provide optical fibre cable network to defence services.

Defence forces need this alternative communication medium in lieu of the spectrum vacated in favour of the telecom sector.

“An assessment of the spectrum required to meet the national target for mobile connections has been made. Discussions with wireless users, including the defence forces, have been held for release of the spectrum,” said officials.

The defence ministry is expected to release 45MHz of spectrum for 2G and 3G services. The Army and the Navy will release 5MHz, while the Indian Air Force has agreed to vacate 40MHz. “The DoT will seek another 15MHz of unutilised spectrum from the defence sector. This will take the total requirement to 60MHz. The spectrum will be vacated over a period of time so that defence establishments can get some time to strengthen their communication network,” officials said.

The defence ministry has been demanding an alternative network for its three armed forces. Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), which is preparing this network, will have to spend Rs 4,000 crore on the project.

The release of additional spectrum is considered crucial for the 3G policy. The suggestions of the group of ministers will also be incorporated in the spectrum allocation and pricing plan.

The DoT committee has also given final touches to the 3G policy. The plan is to allocate 10MHz of spectrum each to four operators, of which one will be a public sector telecom company (BSNL or MTNL).

However, officials said the DoT felt there was no point in finalising the policy until the required spectrum was made available. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India had submitted its recommendations on the 3G policy in September last year to the DoT.

Mobile service providers such as Bharti Airtel, Hutch Essar and BSNL are awaiting government approval to launch 3G services in the country.

Third generation or 3G spectrum will enable operators in providing high-end mobile value added services such as real-time transactions, video streaming, voice and data services.

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