Gearing up for mega spectrum auction, DoT has written to the Defence Ministry for release of spectrum under the harmonisation process as well as 3G radiowaves under the swapping pact.
“The DoT has written to Defence Ministry for releasing spectrum that were to be freed under harmonisation process and 3G spectrum under swapping agreement,” an official told PTI.
Around 200 megahertz of spectrum across the country is to be released by the Defence as also 15 Mhz of 3G spectrum which Department of Telecom plans to put up for auction that is being planned for July.
Another telecom ministry official said that DoT has requested the Defence to release the spectrum by May.
“Things have already been resolved among all ministries. The communication is just part of formal process,” the official said.
Telecom ministry had proposed to exchange 15 Mhz spectrum it holds in the 1900 Mhz band with same quantum of radiowaves held by the Defence in 2100 Mhz. The 2100 Mhz band is currently used for 3G services.
The Cabinet had approved swapping of spectrum between Ministries of Telecom and Defence in January 2015 and process was to be completed in a year as part of harmonisation of all radiowaves among all ministries.
All ministries and departments like Aviation, Space, Prasar Bharti, Defence, Telecom etc that are holding spectrum were asked to harmonise radiowaves among themselves, identify timeline by when will they be able to vacate spectrum not marked for them in 4-5 years.
DoT expects to get about 200 mhz of spectrum freed from Defence under harmonization process. For 3G spectrum in 2100 band, Trai suggested pan-India base price of Rs 3,746 crore.
The Defence Ministry and the DoT had signed a pact in 2009-10 under which the former had agreed to vacate 25 megahertz (MHz) of 3G spectrum and 20 MHz of 2G in phases.
In return, DoT had committed to set up an exclusive defence network for its communication services.
The Defence Ministry had vacated 15 MHz of 3G spectrum which was auctioned in 2010. It had also vacated 15 MHz of 2G spectrum, which was allocated to new operators in 2008. Under the pact, the remaining spectrum – 10 MHz in 3G and 5MHz in 2G – was to be vacated only after alternative communication network is completed.
Though alternative communication network for Defence is yet to be completed, it provided 5 Mhz of 3G spectrum which was auctioned across 17 circles in 2015 fetching bids worth Rs 10,115 crore as against the estimate of Rs 17,555 crore.
The inter-ministerial panel Telecom Commission is expected to meet on April 30 to discuss spectrum auction modalities. It is expected suggest a final base price for spectrum to be auctioned which will need the Cabinet approval.
The auction is scheduled for July and has potential to fetch Rs 5.36 lakh crore to the Exchequer.