DoT reveals 3G spectrum only available for use after June 2010

23 Nov 2009

According to India’s Economic Times, those bidders successful in the upcoming, and long-delayed, 3G auctions, face a further hold-up following revelations that spectrum acquired will only be available to use from June 2010. With the auction now due to be held in January 2010, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has called on the country’s defence forces to vacate some of the spectrum it currently holds by December 2009, although in doing so it noted that it would ensure ‘winners in the 3G auction would start using this spectrum only after June 2010’. The additional delay in allowing operators access to the frequencies is understood to come as a result of the regulator deciding that it would allow the time for the defence forces to migrate the use of their existing equipment to alternative uses.

Having come to an agreement in June 2009, India’s defence forces will release around 45MHz of spectrum over a three-year period for both 2G and 3G services; the initial release will include 10MHz of spectrum suitable for 3G services, and a further 5MHz for 2G service. As part of the agreement the DoT agreed to complete an alternative fibre-optic network for the armed forces’ use by December 2012. However, in a separate report, RTT News reports that state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) has been instructed to issue a tender for the new fibre infrastructure on 7 December 2009, with a view to speeding up the rollout process. The Telecom Commission is expected to meet today to ratify the plan for the new network, following which the DoT will contact the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) with a view to obtaining the INR100 billion (USD2.15 billion) funding for the project.