India’s Finance Ministry to step in over spectrum vacation issues

7 Dec 2011

India’s Ministry of Finance (MoF) is to review the progress made in the construction of a dedicated fibre-optic network and the waiver of spectrum charges for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) amid continued issues between the MoD and the Department of Telecommunications (DoT). According to India’s Economic Times, the MoF has called a meeting with the two other ministries with a view to resolving any issues holding up the vacation of spectrum by the MoD.

As noted in TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, in June 2009 the MoD and DoT inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) under which the former agreed to vacate spectrum needed for 2G and 3G licensees over a three-year period; the armed 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 completion of the aforementioned fibre-optic infrastructure, with work to be undertaken by state-owned telco Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL).

The latest development follows on from developments previously reported by CommsUpdate in March 2011 that saw India’s Cabinet Secretary reveal that due to 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. The issue had come to a head earlier that month, when the MoD announced 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 the pair’s 2009 agreement.