New Delhi: Just as the ministry of defence (MoD) and the department of telecommunications (DoT) are nearing a resolution of their tussle over the vacation of spectrum or radio waves, they have got into a fresh fight over the formulation of the National Frequency Allocation Plan (NFAP) 2010.
MoD wants issues related to defence band (DB) and defence interest zone (DIZ) resolved before the plan is finalized. DoT says the two issues aren’t linked and should be sorted out simultaneously.
DB refers to spectrum reserved for the defence forces, while DIZ is the 50km strip along the country’s international borders.
NFAP 2010 has been drafted by a committee headed by the wireless adviser that was set up to plan for frequency or spectrum allocation requirements for telecom and broadcasting services. The plan will replace NFAP 2008.
According to DoT, the frequencies covered by NFAP are different from those being considered for DB and DIZ. The department has also drafted a three-point proposal for the defence ministry regarding the two.
For the purposes of NFAP, the wireless planning and coordination (WPC) wing has divided spectrum into three categories—non-communication, non-commercial communication and commercial communication frequencies.
For DIZ, DoT proposes to allocate 70% of non-communication spectrum, such as radio location, radio determination and radio astronomy, among others. DoT has also proposed the inclusion of 35% of all spectrum used for non-commercial communication services to the defence forces.
For DB, DoT aims to allocate 30% of non-communication spectrum along with 20% of frequencies used for non-commercial communication services such as Wi-Fi and AM/FM radio.
The Armed Forces will also be given 10% of the spectrum used for commercial communication by telecom operators.
According to an internal note of DoT, the WPC wing has made these proposals “for efficient spectrum management and accommodation of 40 radio communication services in various frequency bands, including frequency bands identified for commercial services and applications”.
Radio communication services refer to services that require spectrum for their functioning.
The internal DoT note reviewed by Mint refers to NFAP as the single source of frequency allocation for various services in different frequency bands, excluding security-related information.
“There is no mention of any specific user or operator. As such, the amount of spectrum in each frequency band likely to be considered for DB band or DIZ will not get mentioned in the NFAP as all the frequency bands are shared with various radio communication services,” says the internal note by the WPC wing in a bid to sidestep questions on security.
“We have made the proposals and they (the defence ministry) are examining it at the moment,” a senior member of WPC said on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue. “There is no problem with the issue and it should be completed soon.”
DoT also says in the note that JCES (joint communications and electronics staff) is inappropriately raising concerns over the issue that DB spectrum is not restricted to the specific portion of any band in DIZ area and that DB needs to be countrywide.
According to DoT, its proposal to MoD already addresses these concerns.
DoT wants NFAP 2010 to be implemented so that guidelines are in place to determine the road map on spectrum. NFAP 2010 is of significance as it includes a review of the 700 MHz band, recognized globally as the most significant frequency range for bridging the digital divide owing to the promise of lower cost.
The lower the frequency of the spectrum, the lesser the expenditure as transmission towers can then be at greater distances than those required for higher frequencies.