India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has sought Cabinet approval of its INR99.7 billion (USD2.07 billion) proposals for the construction of a fibre-optic network for the country’s armed forces, the Economic Times reports. The move comes as part of plans to prepare for the auction of 3G licences; the military have agreed to release spectrum they hold which is needed for potential 3G operators in a phased process over a three-year period. In return for giving up the spectrum the new fibre infrastructure will be constructed by state-owned telcos Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL). In the submitted proposals the DoT noted that the network for the Army is expected to cost INR10.8 billion, while the infrastructure for the Air Force and Navy will account for the remainder of the investment. Additionally, it is understood that the bulk of network construction is close to completion, and the DoT has reportedly claimed that the funds it is seeking are needed to compensate BSNL for work it has already carried out.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, the DoT and the defence ministry agreed the spectrum vacation timetable last month; under the terms of the memorandum of understanding the defence forces will release 45MHz of radio frequencies over a three-year period, of which 25MHz will be made available for 3G services and the rest for 2G. The military also agreed last month to immediately release 10MHz of 3G-suitable spectrum and a further 5MHz for 2G. The DoT for its part has agreed to waive spectrum usage charges for the armed forces, whilst also agreeing to set up an exclusive band of spectrum for their usage along India’s international borders.