DoT faces 3G spectrum crunch in Delhi and 8 other circles

DoT faces 3G spectrum crunch in Delhi and 8 other circles


New Delhi: The much-awaited auction of 3G spectrum may hit yet another roadblock with the Department of Telecom is having no or very less radio frequency in nine circles-- including Delhi - as the Defence Ministry is yet to vacate this scarce natural resource.

With the auction for 3G (third generation) telecom services round the corner, in nine service areas the amount of spectrum required is 30 MHz (to accommodate at least six operators), which is not available, according to a paper by DoT to be presented to the Defence ministry.

In Delhi alone, there is a shortage of 15 MHz. Going by this, only three operators can be given the spectrum to roll out 3G services. In Rajasthan there is no spectrum available at all.

However, a substantial quantity of spectrum is likely to be released by the defence forces soon, sources said. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) in this regard is signed and sealed by the two ministries.

The shortfall can be overcome if the defence forces make available the radio frequency assigned to them in service areas such as Delhi, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh (East and West), Himachal Pradesh, North East and West Bengal.

The spectrum is required by December 2008, when its auction for 3G services is expected to take place.

The defence ministry intends to give out another 20 MHz of spectrum for 2G, but this would be in phases linked to the construction of the alternate optic fiber communication (OFC) network for the defence forces, added.

Spectrum is a scarce natural resource required for offering quality telecom services.

DoT is seeking part of the unused spectrum from the defence forces so that the same could be given out to the telcos, both for 2G and 3G services. Although talks between the two ministries are continuing teh defence Ministry has not vacated any spectrum so far.

Earlier, Communications and IT Minister A Raja said the auction process for 3G would be completed by 15 January, next year.

The DoT has already appointed Rothschild as an agency to conduct e-auction of 3G spectrum and the government is looking at garnering about 25,000 crore from the bidding process.

Leading mobile operators like Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Idea, RCom and Tatas would be in fray to bag spectrum for 3G services.