Sibal expects 160 Mhz of spectrum for BWA service by next year

"To encourage private sector participation in government efforts, last year we had conducted a very successful auction of the 3G and BWA spectrum. It is expected that a total of 160 MHz spectrum would now be available for BWA use by the next year," Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal said at the opening session of the World Summit of the Information Society (WSIS) in Geneva.

He added that operators would be free to choose any technology for deployment of high speed Internet services.

"Our approach would be technology neutrality for provision of spectrum for BWA. It is up to service providers to choose the best technology (LTE/WiMAX/WiFi) suited to them, taking into consideration many aspects such as availability of equipment, efficient use of spectrum and seamless roaming etc," he added.

Last year, the government had auctioned 40 Mhz of spectrum, which included two blocks of 20 Mhz, for providing BWA service in the country. State-run telecom companies MTNL and BSNL were alloted 20 Mhz of spectrum in circles where they run services. These companies had to match the prices paid by the winner of BWA spectrum auction.

The government had earned a revenue of over Rs 1.06 lakh crore from the auction of 3G and BWA spectrum last year.

There was no word on whether this 160 Mhz of BWA spectrum would be auctioned next year or not, but its sale could fetch the government handsome revenues.

Elaborating on country's national broadband plan (NBP) to reach 2.5 lakh panchayats, Sibal said initially public sector company BSNL will be the executing agency with a dedicated project implementation team, consisting of carefully chosen personnel from various organisations, including BSNL itself.

"This team would be the vehicle for implementation of National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) at this stage. Policy decisions, supervision and control of the executing agency for implementation will be carried out by a high level committee," Sibal said.

The government will use Universal Services Obligation Fund (USOF) for NBP and create an institutional mechanism for management and operation of the National Optical Fibre Network through which broadband connectivity would be provided.

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