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Mobile telephony to get part of unused TV spectrum, says telecom minister

MUMBAI: This could be bad news for cable TV operators. After deciding to auction 700 MHz spectrum to telcos, the government plans to further utilise 200 MHz airwaves for mobile telephony. This will be done after coordinating with the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB).

“There exists unused TV spectrum in the 470–698 MHz frequency band, currently used by Doordarshan for terrestrial television broadcast in the country,” Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha.

Part of this spectrum will be put to use for International Mobile Telephony (IMT) services when ecosystem for it is developed, Sinha said.

The government has not entered into an agreement with any private party nor does it plan to do so for utilisation of this spectrum.

TV whitespace technology utilises part of the spectrum that remains unused while transmitting broadcast signals. Mobile consumers often complain of not receiving signals when they are inside buildings or basements. However, TV whitespace is considered efficient to reach deep inside buildings.

In March, the government had handed over a total of 127 MHz spectrum to eight entities in order to enable testing of TV whitespace technology.

Former Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had also informed the Rajya Sabha that 60 MHz spectrum had been allocated to ERNET, which is an autonomous body under the telecom ministry.

Prasad had further stated that 20 MHz was allocated to BHEL, while IIT Bombay, IIT Delhi, IIT Hyderabad, IIIT Bangalore and Tata Advanced Systems each received 10 MHz. Additional 10 MHz was allocated to the collector and magistrate of Amrawati.