The Telegraph
Monday , February 20 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cable network to fill spectrum gap

New Delhi, Feb. 19: The government will make provisions in the forthcoming budget to complete the alternative optical fibre network for the defence forces, being built by Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd.

The defence authorities have agreed to vacate spectrum only when the alternative network comes into operation.

The move will free at least 15 megahertz (MHz) of 2G and 3G radiowaves in each of the 22 mobile circles for civilian use. The spectrum can be auctioned to give higher revenues to the exchequer.

“An inter-ministerial group has sanctioned around Rs 5,000 crore as additional project cost and that provision will be announced in Budget 2012-13,” officials said.

With this allocation, the overall cost of the project will increase 50 per cent to around Rs 15,000 crore. So far, bulk of the allocation has gone to the Air Force and Navy, whose combined share is Rs 8,893 crore against the Army’s Rs 1,077.16 crore.

A senior official of the department of telecom said the construction of the network would take about two years following the approval for funds.

“The installation of equipment on the optic fibre can be completed by the end of this year, while acceptance, testing and commissioning would be undertaken by the middle of 2013,” officials said, adding the defence forces will be able to shift to the new network by the end of 2014.

The vacated spectrum can be used to meet the telecom industry’s requirements in 2015. According to Trai, India will need around an additional 500MHz to meet the country’s mobile voice and data transmission needs starting from 2014. The government has around 700Mhz, which will suffice for the next 2-3 years.

The Centre can also be assured of higher revenues from the sale of radiowaves after 2014, analysts said.