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New spectrum bands identified for mobile broadband service

Thomas K. Thomas
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Mr Kapil Sibal, Communications and IT Minister (file photo). As many as five new spectrum bands have been identified for mobile broadband services.
Mr Kapil Sibal, Communications and IT Minister (file photo). As many as five new spectrum bands have been identified for mobile broadband services.

The Communication and IT Ministry on Friday earmarked at least five new frequency bands, including the 700 Mhz band, for telecom services.

Small chunks of spectrum for developing indigenous technologies have also been reserved under the National Frequency Allocation Plan (NFAP) 2011 unveiled by the Telecom Minister Mr Kapil Sibal. The new Plan, which gives the broad direction for future spectrum allocation, will come into effect from October 1.

The most important element of the allocation Plan is to earmark the entire 700 Mhz band for mobile broadband services. This band was being eyed by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting for Mobile TV services. But the NFAP has pushed the broadcasting services to another band, raising doubts about the future of mobile TV services.

The other major change is that the use of S-band has been opened up for broadband services. This band, falling between 2.5 Ghz and 2.6 Ghz, is being currently used exclusively by INSAT systems for satellite based services including meteorological data dissemination.

If the Plan is implemented then telecom companies could get access to about 200 Mhz spectrum more, which could boost broadband coverage. However, the NFAP is only a broad guideline outlining the future roadmap for spectrum usage in line with international standards. The actual implementation of this Plan depends upon inter-ministerial negotiations.

To promote local research and development in the country, the allocation plan suggests earmarking small chunks of spectrum in the much-sought-after 900 Mhz band for indigenously developed technologies. This band is currently being used for GSM mobile services and is considered prime location because of its favourable propagation characteristics.

(This article was published on September 30, 2011)
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