Telecom Ministry clears spectrum allocation plan

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on September 13, 2011

The new National Frequency Allocation Plan-2011 (NFAP) draft will help in better spectrum management and also increase mobile penetration in rural areas.

Identifies S-band and 700 Mhz frequency for wireless broadband services

The Telecom Ministry has given its nod to National Frequency Allocation Plan 2011 aimed at making available more spectrum for telecom companies. It also sets aside small chunks of spectrum for trials by local equipment manufacturers.

Despite opposition from the Department of Space and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, the Telecom Ministry has identified the S-band and the 700 Mhz frequency, along with a bunch of other new spectrum bands, for wireless broadband services.

New bands

The I&B Ministry and the Department of Space want to use 700 Mhz and the S-band for Mobile TV and satellite services, respectively.

According to the National Frequency Allocation Plan (NFAP) for 2011, prepared by the Wireless Planning and Coordination (WPC) wing of the DoT, at least 10 new frequency bands have been identified for broadband services. While NFAP is the Government's future roadmap for spectrum usage, the WPC is the custodian of airwaves and decides on who gets to use which part of the various frequency bands. However, the actual implementation of this Plan depends upon inter-ministerial negotiations.

The new frequency bands will provide a reprieve to telecom companies as they have been facing a crunch in spectrum over the past few years. The operators will need more spectrum in the near future as data usage starts picking up. The Government has set a target of 100 million broadband subscribers by 2014.

Key driver

According to the TRAI, there will be a need for 6000 Gbps (compared with 750 Gbps in 2010) of bandwidth in the next three years to support all that demand. While some of this demand will be met by optical fibre cable, wireless broadband is expected to be the key driver. Hence, availability of spectrum is crucial.

However, non-telecom users such as the Defence, space agencies and broadcasters also need spectrum and there is an overlap in the frequency bands used by them and telecom operators.

The NFAP will now go to a Group of Ministers with a month and then it will be send to the Cabinet for approval.

Published on September 12, 2011

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