Government accepts report on spectrum allocation, GSM players upset

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New Delhi, Nov 1 (UNI) The government today accepted the report by DOT's technical wing, a move that will make it difficult for players like Airtel and Vodafone to get additional spectrum and which has upset the GSM industry in the country.

The move comes in the wake of GSM lobby, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) challenging the norms set by the Telecom Engineering Centre (TEC) on spectrum allocation and allows rival CDMA operators to offer mobile service under GSM technology.

The TEC recommended more than eight times increase in subscriber base for GSM operators to become eligible for additional spectrum and has lowered the subscriber base in certain areas.

Reacting to the news, Bharti Chairman Sunil Mittal expressed anguish on behalf of the GSM operators. In a letter to Telecom Secretary D S Mathur, Mr Mittal said the ''outcome of the numeric exercise at TEC is a sad commentary on how international and time tested norms for spectrum allocation are being ignored.'' He said the start up spectrum for new operators should be a fraction of the proposed 4.4 Mhz, given that Bharti is serving 50 million customers with an average spectrum of less than 8 MHz.

''Before the Department moves ahead with the revised norms for spectrum allocation I would like to urge you to direct the Department to demonstrate and guide the industry for efficient spectrum use by immediately withdrawing a large part of spectrum from MTNL each in Mumbai and Delhi and then run an efficient high quality network meeting all the quality parameters laid out by TRAI and show the way to the world how best to manage spectrum without compromising the customer's interest,'' Mr Mittal said in his letter to the Telecom Secretary.

TEC had submitted last evening its report on TRAI's subscriber-linked spectrum allocation criteria to the Telecom Commission, which will be presented to Communication Minister A Raja later this week.

The much-awaited report has suggested higher thresholds for spectrum allocation across circles and has set stringent spectrum efficiency reforms.

It has retained TRAI's recommendations of increasing subscriber base for awarding additional radio waves.

Some of the highlights of TRAI's recommendations include increasing subscribers number 2-6 times for allocating additional spectrum beyond 4.4 MHz in case of GSM players and 2.5 Mhz for CDMA players, which was accepted by DoT.

The report said that there is ample scope of enhancing efficiency of spectrum utilization further by adopting increased use of the following In-Building Solutions (IBS).

This is as per TRAI recommendations on spectrum related issues of May 13, 2005 in-building traffic of the order of 60 per cent.

The report has also suggested that new techniques such as Single Antenna Interference Cancellation (SAIC) are likely to become available in 2-3 years. This futuristic measure is expected to enhance capacity substantially.


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