India defense dept claims rights to spectrum on auction

The spectrum sale has hit another hurdle, with the Department of Defence claiming ownership of a segment within the 1800 MHz spectrum band, which could break it up into non-continuous blocks and affect its sale value.

India's Department of Defence has intervened in the country's spectrum sale, which could deliver lower revenues than expected.

According to an internal note from the Department of Telecoms, cited in The Hindu last week, part of the spectrum in the 1800 MHz band is contained in the Defence Band.

India defense department intervenes in spectrum sale.

The Defence department has claimed ownership of the allocation, which affects 11 mobile regions, and said it cannot be sold to private companies. This would mean the government can't sell continuous blocks of spectrum, the report said, and instead may have to split it up into separate chunks. This would affect the overall value.

"Ensuring availability of spectrum in the entire service area, wherever it is partial, has uncertainty implications, as it would need vacation of spectrum by Defence in the 1800 MHz band. Hence, it is proposed that auction of partial spectrum will be decided by the Empowered Group of Ministers,” the note stated.

A DoT official said the department will initiate talks with the Defence ministry, to secure the adequate spectrum.

India's spectrum auction has been hit by numerous delays and obstacles including low interest from bidders and pricing issues. Last February, the country revoked 122 2G licenses due to allegations of fraud in the bidding process between 2001 and 2007. The upcoming auction, likely in August, will include some of the leftover spectrum unsold from previous rounds.


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