This will be used exclusively by defence forces for communication purposes

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has reached an agreement with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for determining a specific frequency band that will be used exclusively by the defence forces for communication purposes.

This will help the defence forces in vacating additional spectrum they are holding in various bands, thus making the scarce radio waves available for various civil communication purposes.

“We have already identified a ‘defence band' for defence communications purpose. Till now there was no clarity on the issue, but soon a government notification will be issued that will pave the way for exclusive frequency band for our defence paraphernalia. This will also help in speedy vacation of radio waves, being held by various forces, for civilian use,” Telecom Secretary R. Chandrashekhar told The Hindu.

Technical issues

Mr. Chandrashekhar pointed out that various technical and procedural issues relating to the State-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) for rolling out a secure communication network for defence forces has also been settled. Though there has been some delay in the execution of the project, a revised project would soon be cleared by the Telecom Commission, the DoT's highest decision-making body, and placed before the Cabinet for clearance.

“In the next two months, the revised project is likely to get all clearances…its execution would begin in next six months. As the project progresses, a timetable would be prepared for vacation of spectrum by the defence forces for civilian use,” the Telecom Secretary said. Notably, the defence services had vacated 3G spectrum in August last after they were assured by the Centre that DoT would roll out an alternative communication network by the end of 2012.

Cost matters

However, cost-related issues, apart from other technical issues, had cropped in, delaying the project. In December 2009, the Cabinet Committee of Infrastructure had approved a budget of Rs. 8,098 crore for the project.

But the BSNL later demanded Rs.13,334 crore as the total cost of the project, including two-year maintenance costs after the network is fully integrated. It is learnt that DoT has agreed to give an additional Rs.5,503 crore to the BSNL for the execution of the project.

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