India’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) has reportedly increased its demands for wireless spectrum as the spat between it and the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) intensifies. According to India’s Economic Times, the DoT has warned the defence ministry’s call for a further 70MHz of spectrum across the country could cause a significant shortage of frequencies for the country’s mobile network operators. The telecoms regulator has claimed that the defence ministry is now requesting that 150MHz of spectrum in the 1700MHz-2000MHz band is set aside for its use; under a previous agreement between the two government departments the DoT had said it would hand the defence forces 150MHz spectrum along India’s international borders, although this would be limited to 80MHz in other areas. The DoT claims that if it were to agree to the request for increased spectrum this could cause losses for the government by reducing the amount of spectrum available for sale.
As previously reported by CommsUpdate, last week it was revealed that amid continued discord between the DoT and the MoD regarding the latter’s vacation of wireless spectrum, the matter will be referred to an empowered Group of Ministers. An impasse between the two government bodies had come 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. 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.