Ending an 8-year-old dispute over spectrum sharing with the defence sector, the Cabinet on Wednesday earmarked bands for exclusive use of security establishment while making available the remaining radiowaves for commercial use in areas such as telecom and broadcasting.
Of the 49 bands of spectrum nine have been identified for exclusive use by the defence in the 2,100 band. In 31 other bands different users including telecom firms, broadcasters, civil aviation and space would co-exist. For the remaining nine, a group has been formed to sort out issues between various user ministries.
After the identification of bands, there will be spectrum swapping with users such as defence vacating the ones which have not been earmarked for them and moving into those reserved for them.
Spectrum refers to radio frequencies used for transporting voice and data. It is a scarce resource and is critical to maintain the quality of voice and data services for users of mobile devices.
“It was an issue pending for the last eight years, the Cabinet has not only resolved the concerns of defence but also ensured that spectrum is harmonised for better utilisation,” IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
Further, to help consumers get better quality service, spectrum in the 31 slots spread around 50 km from the defence zone can be used by operators. During peace time, it can be used but only by informing the defence ministry in advance. In case of war, all the slots would be taken over by the defence ministry.
On certain other bands, which will enhance internet services, the Telecom regulatory Authority of India (Trai) and the Telecom commission will hold another round of discussion.