Spectrum policy before year-end: Raja

Spectrum policy before year-end: Raja

New Delhi: The government said on 22 August 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 at least four times missed the deadline announced by the ministry due to unavailability of spectrum from armed forces. But the defence ministry is expected to release some spectrum in the next couple of months.

Raja said the Department of Telecom was aware of the spectrum crunch for existing mobile operators for normal voice services (2G) but the ministry needs at least 35 Mhz 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 is being considered."

Raja said telecom regulator TRAI’s earlier recommendation was not rejected, but was kept in abeyance. “Now, we are actively thinking thinking how it can be worked out," he said.

The minister said operators would be consulted before finalising any decision. “It is practiced in many countries and it is a greatly useful to customers," he added.

Raja said the telecom ministry was in talks with defence ministry for more spectrum and that exercise was still on.

“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 42.5 Mhz of spectrum from defence forces, for which it is making an alternate network. This 42.5 Mhz of spectrum is for both 2G and 3G or advanced mobile data and voice service. The Defence Ministry wants alternate networks for Army and Navy to be in place first before releasing any spectrum.