New Delhi: Amid the tussle between Defence and Telecom Ministry over spectrum, Communications Minister A Raja is understood to have met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recently to apprise him on the need of releasing more spectrum by the armed forces.
Official sources said Raja met Singh a day after Defence Minister A K Antony said release of additional spectrum needed caution as armed forces had their own concerns about security.
Raja discussed the repercussions of unavailability of spectrum to mobile operators, saying this has halted the introduction of Third Generation (3G) Mobile services and other programmes. Operators also need more spectrum to roll out services in new circles and accommodate more subscribers in existing circles.
The target of touching a telecom subscriber base of 500 million by 2007-end might face hurdles if defence forces do not release spectrum, Raja is believed to have told the PM.
Department of Telecom officials said they were confident the Prime Minister had been convinced over the issue. However, PMO sources said Communication Ministry should try to resolve the issue of spectrum vacation with Defence Ministry in the Group of Ministers, which is the correct platform rather than direct intervention from the highest authority.
The officials also said the GoM, headed by Antony, is unlikely to meet any time soon for discussing the issue. The first scheduled meeting of the GoM was cancelled at the last moment early in June.
Defence forces have to vacate 42.5 Mhz spectrum so that operators can expand their network. DoT has earmarked Rs980 crore for laying an alternate network for armed forces. While the network prepared by BSNL is ready for Air Force which is to releases 40 Mhz of spectrum, Army and Navy are not satisfied with the arrangement.
The demand by Army and Navy, who are to release 2.5 Mhz ofspectrum, for a more secure network would increase the outlay by Rs4,000 crore. This, DoT says, is not possible.