Spectrum policy before year-end: govt

Spectrum policy before year-end: govt

New Delhi: The government on Wednesday said it will announce the spectrum policy before the end of this year and consult telecom operators to explore the possibility of introducing a facility wherein customers can retain their mobile numbers even after changing the service provider.

“I am very optimistic that in a couple of months spectrum policy will be ready...it would definitely be before the end of the year," communications minister A. Raja told reporters.

The policy has missed the deadline announced by the ministry at least four times due to unavailability of spectrum from the armed forces. But the defence ministry is expected to release some spectrum in the next couple of months.

Raja said the department of telecom (DoT) was aware of the spectrum crunch for existing mobile operators for normal voice services (2G) but the ministry needed at least 35MHz of radio waves from defence forces to release it among operators. On number portability that will allow mobile users to retain their numbers while switching to another operator, he said: “It is being considered...the recommendation given by Trai (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) is being considered."

Raja said Trai’s earlier recommendation was not rejected, but was kept in abeyance. “Now, we are actively thinking how it can be worked out," he said. The minister said operators would be consulted before finalizing any decision. “It is practised in many countries and it is greatly useful to customers," he added.

Raja said his ministry was in talks with defence ministry for more spectrum.

“Some internal technical assessment is being done by both the ministries to see what are the spectrum bands that are not at all used for a long time," he said. “Once the assessment is over, we will come out with a paper and place it before the group of ministers...it will enable the GoM to look at the vacation of spectrum in a broad way. Unless there is a quantum of spectrum available on hand, it is very difficult to say anything," Raja said. He also said DoT had not decided whether to price 2G spectrum. DoT is seeking release of 42.5MHz of spectrum from the defence forces, for which it is making an alternative network.