The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) wants the government to identify spectrum being held by various departments and agencies for effective commercial application of the scarce natural resource.
“In order to ensure the availability of spectrum and appropriate utilisation, the Department of Telecom (DoT) should carry out studies on its usage and necessity so that various departments holding a scarce resource can use it in a right manner,” Trai Chairman Ram Sewak Sharma told ET.
Other than telecom services, nearly 60% of identified spectrum is held by various departments and their agencies for the use of FM radio and DTH TV, satellite and space communication, aeronautical navigation, and defence communication services.
The regulator added that if spectrum was not put to use optimally and efficiently, it might result in not only financial loss to the government but also hinder economic and social development of the country.
Trai believes that such a perishable natural resource should be suitably deployed and the unused radio waves should be allowed for sale for commercial purposes.
In its auction recommendations to the government last August, the watchdog said various government agencies were allocated spectrum administratively and that should be put to optimal use, adding that it had suggested an audit on many occasions.
Trai, through this exercise, also wants to draw up a schedule for the release of suitable frequencies to the telecom sector for effective mobile telephony and broadband services in the country.
With the exponential growth in data led by video content and in the anticipation of the fifth-generation or 5G-based telecom services, telcos have been demanding more frequencies across bands to be put on the table. The service providers have often attributed poor service quality including call drops to the unavailability of sufficient spectrum.
“There is an urgent need of audit for all allocated spectrum both commercial as well as spectrum allocated to various public sector undertakings or government organisations. This should be done by an independent agency,” Trai said earlier.
Meanwhile, the departments of space and broadcasting were principally against the idea of sharing spectrum utilisation details, according to an industry source.
The country’s National Frequency Allocation Plan (NFAP) indicates radio waves allocation, and according to it, 87.5Mhz-108MHz spectrum band is used for FM radio broadcasts, 230Mhz -450Mhzfor satellite communication, aeronautical navigation and outdoor broadcast vans, 585Mhz -698Mhz is taken for TV broadcast and 2170Mhz-2300Mhz is for satellite and space communications.