Monday, 6 February 2012

S-Band Spectrum

The S-Band is a part of the electromagnetic spectrum, and refers to radio waves with frequency of 2.5 GHz. It is being used globally for providing mobile broadband services using fourth generation technologies such as WiMax and Long Term Evolution (LTE).

This frequency band is unique because it has a substantial amount of spectrum (190 MHz) that can be put to use for mobile services. The World Radio-Communications Conference 2000 (held under the aegis of the International Telecommunication Union), designated the 2.5 Ghz band for mobile services. Since then there is great demand for this spectrum among telecom providers, fetching governments billions of dollars in auctions.

In India there is much competition for S-Band spectrum between providers of terrestrial mobile phone service, satellite mobile services, wireless broadband service and the Department of Space (which needs it for radio networking, meteorological data dissemination etc). Despite this the S-Band Spectrum in the Antrix-Devas deal was given without auction for a nominal sum of Rs. 1000 crore for 70 MHz, in comparison to BSNL and MTNL who were asked to pay Rs. 12,847 crore for 20 Mhz allotted to them. (The deal was scrapped in 2011 and investigations are underway).

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has sought to review the usage of this frequency band by the incumbents (DoS was allotted 150MHz of the band in the 1980s), and refarm it for commercial mobile services. This is required to keep the Indian telecom industry in step with global trends, and thus maintain its viability and efficiency. 3

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