DoT enters spectrum debate

21 Dec 2004

India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has stepped into the argument which has been raging for several months between the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and the nation’s cellular operators regarding the future allocation of mobile spectrum. According to Indian newspaper The Telegraph, the DoT has apparently asked TRAI to simply monitor the use of spectrum by operators, and not breach its mandate by commenting on how the government might award future radio frequencies. The current debate has centred on recent demands for PCS 1900MHz spectrum by CDMA operators Tata Teleservices and Reliance Infocomm. However, the nation’s remaining mobile operators, who use the GSM standard, have argued that the allocation of the 1900MHz frequency band will jeapordise their future prospects of introducing third-generation (3G) mobile services.

In October India’s CDMA operators joined forces with the CDMA Development Group to lobby the country’s telecoms regulator to make the 1900MHz band available for the deployment of CDMA2000 systems. Since the award of Universal Access licences last year, the Indian mobile market has grown exponentially, with connections rising from 21 million to over 30 million in the first half of 2004 alone. The country’s CDMA operators have told the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) that they need the extra spectrum to be able to meet the current burgeoning demand, and also to deploy IMT-2000 services. They claim that allocation of the 1900MHz band is consistent with International Telecommunication Union (ITU) recommendations, and will not interfere with other next-generation technologies due to be rolled out in India, such as W-CDMA, pointing to countries such as the US and Japan, where W-CDMA and CDMA2000 are being deployed in the same bands.