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DoT panel undecided on spectrum allocation to mobile operators

Some experts say unless a service provider has robust backhaul spectrum, providing 5G services can become a challenge for the company

Megha Manchanda  |  New Delhi 

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The Department of Telecom (DoT) is divided over the allocation of backhaul to mobile operators, with half of them backing the route for selling microwave spectrum and the remaining half sticking to the current practice of allotment on a first-cum-first-served basis.

The latter is international practice. According to at least two persons privy to the development, an internal panel of the that is working on a policy of allotting backbone has not been able to decide on the matter due to differing views of the members.

Microwave access, or MWA spectrum, is allocated to for short distances to provide mobile services.

If the logjam on policy persists, it may have an impact on proposed spectrum auctions because the backhaul or backbone spectrum is an essential component for seamless operation of next-generation

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Some experts say unless a service provider has robust backhaul spectrum, providing services can become a challenge for the company.

“Nowhere in the world is backhaul spectrum auctioned, and if we adopt that route it would not be in sync with the international best practices,” an official said, adding some officials are suggesting the route to avoid any scrutiny in the future.

A sector expert said spectrum was an intangible resource and should be given on administered low prices.

“If the demand for spectrum exceeds the supply, it should be auctioned. Currently, the demand does not exceed the supply,” said Mahesh Uppal, an independent telecom expert.

The in its report in January pointed out was allocated to a telecom operator in 2015 on a first-cum-first-served basis in contravention of the recommendation of a committee, constituted in December 2012.

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The panel had proposed spectrum allotment in the microwave band to all the operators through

The Supreme Court in 2012 had struck down the first-come-first-served policy in the case of 2008-09 and cancelled 122 telecom permits.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India in its recommendations in 2014 said the DoT should continue to allot backbone spectrum on a first-come-first-served basis.

First Published: Tue, February 12 2019. 01:19 IST