War breaks out over 3G frequency allocation plans

2 Aug 2004

India’s telecoms industry is reported to be in a state of turmoil over the allocation of frequency spectrum to provide voice, multimedia and high speed data services for third-generation (3G) applications. The Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued a consultation paper on spectrum allocation to gauge industry opinion on how best to hand out spectrum in the PCS1900 band, eliciting a response from operators and the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI). Operators such as Reliance and Tata say the PCS1900 spectrum should be given to them, but rival Bharti, Hutch, Idea, BSNL and MTNL bitterly oppose such a proposal claiming that it would diminish voice quality on their GSM networks as a result of frequency interference. Moreover, they argue that such a move would block their migration path to 3G services – an opinion that has been backed by the COAI which says that ‘the allocation of the PCS1900 band would not only result in a major interference to the services offered by operators using GSM technology but also block the progress of 30 million subscribers to 3G’. It is feared that the PCS1900 band would clash with the GSM-1800 spectrum in uplinking and downlinking data information. With the former, PCS interferes with the 1800MHz band’s ability to downlink the call or data, and with downlinking, the PCS airwaves clash with frequencies in the 1920-1980MHz band – the uplinking mode for IMT-2000.