DoT’s Bargain With The Defense Ministry Could Allow 3 More Telecom Players To Offer 3G Services

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is currently in discussion with India’s Defense Ministry that could have a substantial impact on the future of 3rd Generation (3G) high speed mobile broadband.


DoT has officially proposed the Defense Ministry to give up about 15 MHz from the 2100 MHz spectrum band and instead accept equal quantity from the 1900 MHz band. While the quantum of swap doesn’t seem much, it could prove to be a boon for telecom companies who are presently vying to offer high speed 3G services but are unable owing to unavailability of viable and workable spectrum standard.

Why is 15 MHz from 2100 MHz Spectrum band so critical? While the 4th Generation (4G) services may operate in the smaller i.e. 700–900 MHz spectrum band, India has traditionally operated its entire telecommunications within the 2100 MHz band. As technology evolved, the 3G services were deployed on this same 2100MHz band.

Currently, there is 15 MHz spectrum band available to be used for 3G services. But three telecom players are already utilizing the same. Interestingly, there are two possibilities if defense agrees to the swap. The present companies could augment their limited 5 MHz spectrum, which is too little to provide high-speed broadband services. Internationally, operators use up to 10 MHz of spectrum for 3G services. However, if these players aren’t offered to expand, then three new players could easily deploy 3G services.

Owing to such multi–agency commitments, Indian telecom players had been paying heavily to retain operational licenses. But such a deal with the Defense Ministry, which has traditionally been very adamant about letting go of the spectrum, could radically alter the future of 3G services. Owing to additional competition, the price of Data or 3G Tariffs could come down significantly and users who do not need ultra–high speed 4G services could easily afford to use reliable and relatively higher speed standard. Do you think India’s Defense Ministry should listen to DoT and hand–over 15 MHz spectrum from the 2100MHz band?

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