GSM Lobby Threatens Legal Course On Spectrum Issue

Singapore | Updated: Sep 29 2004, 05:30am hrs
Amid a raging controversy over allocation of spectrum band between GSM and CDMA operators, Sunil mittal of Bharti group on Tuesday cast apprehensions on the consultation process by telecom regulator, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) and said the GSM operators may approach court if they were denied a level playing field.

The consultation process initiated by Trai is worrisome. The approach appears to be favouring CDMA operators, Mr Mittal told reporters on the sidelines of the GSM World Congress Asia 2004 here.

If the outcome is not in the right directions, the matter will go to courts. It is going to be another long-drawn battle, he said.

According to Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), 3G services should be as per the identified core band (1920-1980 Mhz paired with 2110 to 2170 Mhz) and as allocated in the national frequency allocation plan.

This is the only band in which commercial equipment is available and all countries that are offering 3G services are doing so only in this band.

While on the other hand, CDMA operators have contested GSM operators plea and demanded that 1900 Mhz band be exclusively reserved for their services.

Leading private cellular operators, including Bharti, BPL, Hutch and Idea, have already applied for 3G cellular licences, COAI said, adding while the imminent unified telecom licences will allow existing operators to offer both 2G and 3G services, band 1900 Mhz (known as IMT 2000) spectrum is undoubtedly reserved for 3G services and applications and should only be used for the same.

Mr Mittal said that that the 1900 Mhz band was crucial for GSM operators to migrate to 3G services.

We are willing to share (1900 band) with CDMA operators provided it was allocated on equal basis and we are also allowed to move into 3GSM at the same time as CDMA operators, Mr Mittal said.

Even as Trai has initiated a consultation process with regard to spectrum policy, the issue of reserving the core band of 1900 Mhz, as demanded by GSM operators as well as CDMA players, could pose a difficulty for the regulator to resolve the contentious issue, some of the operators felt.