Spectrum vacation issue to be referred to group of ministers

14 Mar 2011

India’s Cabinet Secretary has revealed that amid continued discord between the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) regarding the latter’s vacation of wireless spectrum, the matter will be referred to an empowered Group of Ministers. According to India’s Economic Times the issue came to a head earlier this month, when the MoD said it would halt the process of freeing up spectrum it currently utilises, with the ministry claiming the DoT had failed to fulfil commitments made as part of an agreement between the two in 2009.

As noted in TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, in June 2009 the MoD and the DoT inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU), with the former agreeing to vacate spectrum needed for 2G and 3G licensees over a three-year period. The defence forces agreed to initially release 10MHz of spectrum suitable for 3G services, and a further 5MHz for 2G service with immediate effect, with the remainder of its held spectrum released in a phased manner upon Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd’s (BSNL’s) completion of a fibre-optic network for its use. For its part the DoT also reportedly committed to a setting up an exclusive spectrum band for the defence forces.

While work on the fibre network is underway, the MoD claims other promises made by the DoT have yet to be realised, with a letter from Defence Minister, AK Antony to the Finance Ministry noting: ‘The Ministry of Communications (MoC) has not been able to adhere to even one of its commitments despite several efforts by this Ministry. The matter was accordingly taken up by the Defence Secretary in the High-Level Monitoring Committee (HLMC) chaired by the Cabinet Secretary … The decisions taken by this Committee have also not been fulfilled by the MoC, even though the MoD has honoured the decisions.’