Issuing notices to all ISPs, DoT said: “It has received complaints from time to time about interference, unauthorised use of spectrum in the 2300-2400 frequency band. During the process of monitoring by Wireless Monitoring Organisation (under DoT), it has been observed that some of the ISPs/other users are radiating in part of 2300-2400 MHz frequency band, which has been allotted to telecom service providers (TSPs) through auction.”
Currently, telecom companies like Bharti Airtel, Aircel and to-be-launched Reliance Jio Infocomm (RJIL) operate 4G mobile services in the 2300-2400 MHz band. Mukesh Ambani’s RJIL, is likely to launch its fourth-generation (4G) mobile phone services by March-April this year, according to industry analysts. Jio, the brand name of RJIL, officially launched its services on December 27 last year, when it offered its around 80,000 employees up to four connections free of cost to test its services. RJIL has also sought DoT’s permission to offer broadband services. DoT will consider of RJIL’s request in this regard on February 19 this month. DoT has warned ISPs of penal action if they continue to possess wireless equipment and transmit radiowaves without holding a valid licence from Wireless Planning and Coordination (WPC) wing.
DoT also directed the violators to take up necessary steps to mitigate spurious emissions generated by their equipment operating in the de-licensed frequency band of 2300-2400 MHz. Sources said that the problem concerning interference in the 2300-2400 MHz band is coming from small ISPs which largely operate in some localities especially in big metro cities.
Industry officials said as competition is heating up in the 4G space, ISPs too have to compete on similar internet speeds as being providers by 4G service providers like Bharti Airtel, amongst others, by technically manipulating and intruding into the 4G band owned by telcos.
The telcos had complained of similar interference by ISPs when they started offering 3G speeds around 2012-13. The issue was settled after the intervention of DoT then.
ISPs control over 21% of the market share in India’s internet space, while 79% is held by telecom companies. Most of the ISPs buy a bulk of airwaves from telecom companies at a much-subsidised rates, which they sell to offices, industry and group housing societies.
Moreover, there are many pockets in cities and towns where ISPs offer internet services through their cable networks.