MoD agrees to vacate 3G spectrum but no sale in 2015, DoT says

22 Jan 2015

India has determined spectrum bands to be used by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), paving the way for the refarming of 3G frequencies currently used by national security agencies. The Economic Times writes that after an eight-year dispute, the government has determined nine spectrum bands up to the 40GHz range to be used exclusively by the MoD. Under the re-allocation process, the MoD will vacate 15MHz of 2100MHz spectrum in exchange for airwaves in the 1900MHz band. The government has ruled out any sale of the additional 3G spectrum in 2015, however, with Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad noting that although the swap has been agreed, the actual process ‘will take some time.’ Telecom industry stakeholders and, indeed, sector regulator the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had called for the spectrum currently occupied by the MoD to be included in next month’s sale and allocate it to users at a later date, once it becomes available. However, officials from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) said that the process would take more than a year: ‘If we were to auction airwaves that currently we do not have and the swap with [the] defence [ministry] stretches beyond a year, the industry will start clamouring for refund and pro-rata reduction in prices or eve extensions, as they are doing now.’