The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is working to frame a policy for assignment of mobile access spectrum to sovereign entities like defence, security forces, railways etc., as well as allotment of backhaul airwaves to private commercial operators. As per telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan, spectrum assignment to sovereign entities have been done on ad-hoc basis but now the government will formulate a policy framework.
Regarding backhaul spectrum for private mobile operators, allocation has been done administratively and going forward too, a clear process will be laid out.
“There was not a clear laid down policy. Now we have attempted to come up with a set of principles based on which spectrum should be assigned. There will be a public portal where all the available spectrum will be known to all the agencies. There will be frequent audits of spectrum so that we ensure nobody is squatting on spectrum than assignment will be done within a certain period,” the secretary said after the Digital Communications Commission (DCC) meeting that discussed the matter.
A detailed policy note will be prepared and the DoT will seek SG and AG’s opinion, and finally it will go to Cabinet for approval. There is, however, no timeframe by when it will be formulated. It must be mentioned that Railways has also sought spectrum in 700 MHz band from DoT for its captive use but no decision has been taken so far. The DoT has also sought recommendations on the matter from Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai). The DoT feels that mobile access spectrum for commercial use has to be auctioned only as was stated by the Supreme Court in 2012 order.
However, guidelines have to be formed for non access spectrum or backhaul spectrum for commercial purposes. Till now, backhaul spectrum has been assigned on link-to-link basis to telecom operators administratively. Apart from that, the DCC approved the proposal for issuing a request for proposal (RFP) for selecting the auctioneer for the upcoming sale of airwaves. The last auctioneer period ended in 2018. The DoT will be immediately issuing the RFP now.―Financial Express