India’s mobile operators have called on telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad to offer up L-band frequencies in the 1427MHz-1518MHz range to bolster 3G and 4G services, the Economic Times reports. The L-band is currently allocated to the armed forces, but for the most part remains idle. In a letter to the minister, industry group the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) noted that the L-band: ‘is largely unused or underutilised and identifying it for mobile broadband services would provide an excellent opportunity to deliver high quality broadband, especially in rural areas, in line with Digital India goals.’ Further, early adoption of the L-band for 3G/4G services in India would give domestic technology and manufacturing firms a head start in developing and producing compatible handsets, the COAI added. The government is currently promoting the domestic manufacturing industry via its ‘Make in India’ programme, and is trying to expand the reach and adoption of the nation’s telecoms services via its ‘Digital India’ project.
Meanwhile, an unnamed executive of a leading carrier was quoted as saying that opening up a new spectrum range would help drive down costs for operators, enabling them to provide lower end-user prices: ‘L-band requires only half the quantum of airwaves for delivering high speed 3G and 4G data downloads, so auctioning such spectrum would also benefit operators as it should technically be cheaper, with a lower reserve price, as it would involve smaller blocks.’