Defence to vacate spectrum by year-end

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New Delhi, Oct 25 (UNI) In what would be a bonanza for mobile operators, both GSM and CDMA, the Defence Ministry will vacate 20 to 25 MHZ of spectrum or radio waves by the year end which will enable telecom companies to offer 2G and 3G service in a substantial way.

According to Communications and IT Minister A Raja, an institutional mechanism has been set up for the early vacation of spectrum from the defence.

This would also help the early roll out of 3G services offering apart from voice, streaming video and a host of other features.

''We are hopefull that some spectrum for both 2G and 3G will be vacated by Defence,'' the Minister said.

Mr Raja was speaking at a 3G summit organised by TV news Channel CNBC here.

This key announcement by Mr Raja comes after a Group of Ministers met in September. The Defence Ministry has told DoT that it can release spectrum only after the DoT provides a secure fibre optic network for all the three services.

DoT, which had started work for all three services together in April 2006, faced problems with Army and Navy. Both these services had increased their network requirement which was leading to a cost of about Rs 4,000 crore. This created problems for DoT as its overall budget was Rs 1,000 crore for the three services.

''3G servics offers an an exciting opportunity for operators to provide innovative services, especially to the subcontinent's increasingly young, affluent and IT-literate urban population,'' the Minister said.

He said the market for 3G content is begining to develop rapidly, operators and content providers have to concentrate their efforts on proposing contemporary content and services.

''The availability of cheaper 3G handsets is a major factor that will drive growth of 3G throughout India,'' the Minister said.

He said there are several issues that have to be considered before 3G becomes a reality. The service, he said should be made as an extension of 2G services or what are the bands in which 3G spectrum should be allocated and what should be the principle of such allocations will be some of the areas to be sorted out.

Moreover should foreign players be a part of 3G service providers is also to be decided when the government in its 3G policy.

Availability of spectrum too has been a bottle-neck in ushering in 3G services, Mr Raja said.

Later in the evening after receiving dividend cheque from MTNL, Mr Raja said WIMAX and 2G spectrum will be auctioned.

''We have sought recommendations from the Law Ministry,'' he said.

UNI

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