Spectrum to be rolled out within UPA govt tenure: Raja

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New Delhi, Mar 14 (UNI) The government today said it is confident of rolling out additional spectrum within the tenure of the UPA government.

''We hope to roll out the additional spectrum during the current tenure of the UPA government...Be optimistic,'' Telecom Minister A Raja told reporters on the sidelines of a conference here.

Reliance Communication (RCom) had asked the Department of Telecom (DoT) to allocate spectrum in the more cost effective 900 Mhz band instead of the 1800 Mhz band for offering GSM services.

DoT had earlier allocated start up spectrum to the company in the 1800 Mhz band.

Yesterday, the existing GSM operators have, however, shot off a letter to DoT objecting to the swap on the grounds that they had first rights to the spectrum in the 900 Mhz band.

GSM lobby Cellular Operators of India (COAI) said the existing operators have the first right to this spectrum.

DoT has added that revenue for landline and internet services (offered via landline) will no longer be counted for determining the spectrum charges.

Currently, telecom operators pay two-six per cent of their revenue, including revenue from landline and broadband service, as spectrum charges.

The move will benefit telcos like state-owned BSNL and MTNL, Bharti Airtel, Reliance Communications and Tata Teleservices, which offer both mobile and landline services.

On the BlackBerry service issue, he said it will be discussed in the telecom commission.

''We will discuss the issue in the Telecom Commission. The country's security is of paramount importance,'' the Minister said.

Addressing the conference on 'Emerging Trends in Wireless Technologies and Services', he said low penetration of telephony in the rural areas is a cause of concern, but it has come on fast track since last one year.

During the last one year, rural tele-density has increased from two to eight per cent.

''But our target of 25 per cent rural tele-density still requires lot of collective efforts by the government and the industry,'' Mr Raja said.

He said there is need to put more emphasis to increase the penetration of Broadband connections, which is presently alarming low at three million connections.

The government is giving full support to technology advanced services like number portability, IPTV, network security and information privacy, he said.

UNI MP SR HT1728

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