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Spectrum sold to telcos in Feb auction caught in DoT, defence tussle

The telecom department, a source said, is unable to give out those spectrum or airwaves because the defence ministry is squatting on some of those bands.

Written by Subhomoy Bhattacharjee | New Delhi |
October 10, 2014 1:47:23 am

Telecom services in several metros including Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata could be potentially disrupted this winter as the government has not been able to sort differences between its two ministries —telecom and defence.

On Thursday, Vodafone warned this could happen because of delay by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to allot airwaves in the 1800 mhz band to the company. “The repercussions (would be) bigger than any other quality of service issue seen in the history of mobile telecom in India,” it said.

The problem affects Bharti Airtel too. It has arisen because though several companies, including Bharti and Vodafone, won additional spectrum in auctions conducted by the department in February this year, those have not been allotted to them.

The telecom department, a source said, is unable to give out those spectrum or airwaves because the defence ministry is squatting on some of those bands. It has refused to vacate those bands asking in return for the creation of a dedicated defence spectrum band to be administered by it. “The DoT had prior to the auctions, agreed to our demand,” said a highly placed defence ministry source.The source explained that the controversy affects only a small percentage of the total 1800 mhz band put up for auction.

“But the effect is the same as that of a total blockage”, said an industry source.

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