An aggressive roll-out of 2G and 3G mobile services is on but a host of telecom service providers with ambitious plans to expand their operations are getting stuck because the spectrum meant for them is held up at the defence ministry’s domain.
Their wait for the spectrum is set to get longer as the ministry will take a while to vacate the spectrum it holds because state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) has not yet started laying the optical fibre network (OFC) that it needs in order to free up the wireless spectrum.
In a letter dated May 6 to defence minister A. K. Antony, communications and IT minister Kapil Sibal said that the implementation of OFC network will be delayed “because of changes in specifications and requirements” after a tender was issued for its roll-out.
While defence authorities have agreed to vacate the spectrum a lot will depend on how soon they have an alternative in place."After completion of the tendering process by BSNL for OFC laying, BSNL proposed enhancement of the budget for laying of OFC by about R4,900 crore because of changes in the specifications and requirements, which was discussed in the meeting of full telecom commission (FTC) in November 2010," said the minister in the letter.
“The FTC decided to request the ministry of defence to examine and authenticate the changes in specifications. In response, the ministry of defence advised that this issue be referred to the inter ministerial group (IMG) which was constituted for defining the scope and specification of network to firm up and authenticate the specifications and requirement for the OFC laying project.”
Most of the incumbent service providers want additional spectrum to provide services.. In cities like Delhi , new operators including Tata Teleservices have not got spectrum and hence are not able to launch 2G services.