Govt, private telcos look to harmonise 1800 MHz spectrum

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New Delhi | Published: July 13, 2015 12:28:28 AM

At least 5 MHz each in all 22 telecom circles likely to be made available for commercial use

At least 5 MHz of 1800 MHz band of spectrum each in all the 22 telecom circles in the country is likely to be made available for commercial use by harmonising 1800 megahertz (MHz) of spectrum in the 1710-1785 MHz band.

The defence ministry and the telecommunications department have been holding regular meetings with the representatives of private telecom companies for the past two months to effectively harmonise 1800 MHz of spectrum in the 1710-1785 MHz band, which could be put up for the next round of auction, a top government official told FE.

“There are some overlaps and unused spectrum scattered amongst private telcos and armed forces that could be effectively used through harmonisation. Some operators are not cooperating but we are working on it. The process is a bit cumbersome and so it may take some time. But in the worst case, we hope that this would be made available any time early next year,” said an official.

Another official explained that by harmonising the 1710-1785 MHz band, “We expect to release at least 110 MHz of spectrum — at least 5 MHz each in 1800 MHz in each telecom circle by early next year.”

At least 26.4 MHz of 1800 MHz band of spectrum along with 20 MHz of 800 MHz band of spectrum and 12.4 MHz of 900 MHz band of spectrum of telecom companies are expiring in early 2017.

In the 1800 MHz band, 4.4 MHz each of RCom’s Gujarat circle, TTSL’s AP circle, TTSL’s Maharashtra, TTSL’s Mumbai circle, HFCL’s Punjab circle and 2.2 MHz of MTNL’s Mumbai circle are expiring early 2017.

On the other hand, while there is an uncertainty over the auctioning of 35 MHz of 700 MHz band of spectrum, the department of telecom (DoT) and the defence ministry are working out the modalities for swapping 1900 MHz band of 2G spectrum with 2100 MHz of 3G spectrum, as reported earlier by FE.

Top DoT sources said in all likelihood, the government may partly auction 700 MHz band of spectrum, but that too will be evaluated only after assessing if private telcos would be interested in buying it. The decision in this regard would be taken only by the year-end, said an official.

The 700 MHz band airwaves are considered more efficient than any of the bands — 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz and 2300 MHz — allotted in India so far and have better propagation characteristics, which means better coverage and faster data speed.

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