Operators in India urged the country’s communications minister to allot at least some of the 3G airwaves reserved for the armed forces for commercial use, according to The Economic Times.
In a letter to Ravi Shankar Prasad, the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) said the spectrum in the 2.1GHz band should be allocated immediately if the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is unable to finalise a proposed spectrum-swap deal with the armed forces.
Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular are all members of the COAI.
The letter said that the partial allotment “will enable mixed use of 3G spectrum by reserving such bandwidth for defence in some geographies and putting it to commercial use elsewhere”.
Much of the military usage of 3G spectrum is in a small area of India, meaning much of the reserved spectrum is unused and a “national waste”, according to the COAI.
The COAI previously asked the telecom department to work with the defence ministry to exchange of 15 units of 3G airwaves in the 2.1GHz band for 15 units of unused spectrum in the 1.9GHz band.
With no agreement reached with the armed forces, the COAI believes partial allotment of spectrum should enable operators to increase their 3G network capacity and provide improved mobile broadband coverage without compromising the needs of the military.
A separate report said the DoT will require nine operators to pay one-time spectrum usage charges for continuing to provide services in some circles after the country’s Supreme Court terminated their 2G permits in February 2012.
An internal document said the department will work out the charges on a pro rata basis from the date of the court ruling until operators ceased to use the spectrum.
The Supreme Court quashed the 2G licences due to irregularities in their allocation in 2008. Some operators, such as Etisalat and S Tel, exited the market following the ruling, while others bought back spectrum in fewer circles.