Indian CDMA operators face wait for additional 3G spectrum

23 Aug 2010

Indian CDMA-based cellcos are facing a protracted wait for any additional 3G spectrum after the country’s armed forces revealed that they would not release frequencies in the 1900MHz band in the immediate future. According to India’s Economic Times, in a recent meeting between the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and the Defence Ministry the latter rejected demands by the regulator to vacate the spectrum it currently holds in the 1900MHz band, instead seeking exclusive rights to frequencies in that band. The DoT however said that such exclusivity could not be granted, as the 1900MHz band represented ‘the only growth path for CDMA operators and had already been allocated for auction’.

The armed forces have also reportedly refused to commit to a date for the release of 10MHz of 2G spectrum, despite having previously signed a Memorandum of Understanding last year under which it agreed to hand back 2G frequencies in phases based on the progress of the alternate communication network that BSNL and MTNL are jointly building for the forces. The DoT is seeking an immediate release of the agreed spectrum on the basis that the alternate fibre backbone is now 90% completed. Defence Ministry officials however have said that it will only review the DoT’s request after the fibre-optic network stabilises.