India to use broadcast airwaves for mobile services

  • The ministries of Telecom and Information and Broadcasting have agreed to use over 200 MHz spectrum earmarked for broadcasting services for advance mobile services.
  • The decision was conveyed to the delegation in ITU. If India is firm on this band for mobile services now, the ecosystem will take around 5—8 years to develop,
  • Once ITU decides it to be allocated for mobile services in the Asian region, DoT will pitch for it to be deployed for wireless broadband services
  • India has already represented at World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC) through DoT to get this band for mobile services
Significance
  • It has the potential to support a boom in machine-to-machine communication like real—time surveillance using wireless video camera and transmission of health record automatically to hospitals.
  • At WRC, India supported inclusion of 470—698 MHz for international mobile telecommunications (IMT) service area. It is a good step forward, especially for broadband coverage in rural areas
Details
  • The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a body under the United Nations, coordinates with countries to allocate spectrum for various technologies.
  • However, ITU could not approve usage of this spectrum for advance mobile services as Iran objected to interference in services from Pakistan. Pakistan, in turn, was opposed to its use in India
  • A big chunk of spectrum in 450 MHz band in India is marked for broadcast services, including over 100 MHz spectrum between 585 MHz—698 MHz. The majority of this is with Doordarshan. It may not need entire spectrum between 470—698 MHz
  • Doordarshan has vacated 700 MHz band spectrum, which the government is planning to auction now. Early this year, the spectrum auction of about 380 MHz airwaves across various bands fetched government bids worth Rs 1.1 lakh crore.
  • For the sake of perspective, France, which is around one—fifth of India’s size, recently realised about USD 2.98 billion from the auction of 30 MHz of paired frequency.
  • In Brazil, the 450 MHz band is being used for 4G services at a very low cost, especially at locations where the population is less. The technology is still being evolved to address issues like interference.
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