India running out of 2G spectrum

India has exhausted all the second generation (2G) spectrum it has in about 10 of the 22 telecom circles in the country, an internal analysis by the department of telecom has revealed. This implies, unless the defence forces were to vacate additional airwaves, the government cannot make any further allocations of 2G radio frequencies in these circles to telecom operators.

At present, all mobile services in the country are offered using 2G airwaves. The circles where all 2G spectrums have been exhausted include Maharashtra, Gujarat, Kerala, Punjab, Haryana, UP( West & East) Rajasthan Madhya Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir.

Currently, the DoT has put on hold the allocation of 2G spectrum to all telcos. Further 2G allocation are slated to happen only after the auction of 3G spectrums, vital for high-end services such as high-speed internet and video conferencing on the mobiles.

The only way out for the communication ministry is for defence forces to speed up vacation of airwaves. As per the MoU between the defence and the communication ministry, the former will release up to 45 MHz of radio frequencies over a three-year period, of which 25 MHz would for the 3G services and the rest for 2G.

The MoU also states that the defence forces will release two blocks (10 MHz) of 3G airwaves and one block of 2G frequencies immediately, while the remaining would be released over a three-year time frame. But, the defence forces had recently said that they would not release spectrum in a phased manner, but do so only after the DoT finishes building an alternate network for them by 2011.

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