WiMax rollout may be delayed in Telecom

New Delhi, August 31: The dispute between the Department of Space (DoS) and Department of Telecommunications (DoT) over vacation of broadband wireless access (BWA) spectrum can delay WiMax rollout, a senior official said here on Monday.

WiMax or wireless Internet is essential for increasing broadband penetration in the country-especially in rural areas. However, its rollout will be hampered as a result of the differences between the two departments over vacation of spectrum by DoS.

“DoT is looking at two options, whether to defer the auction or issue conditional licences-meaning roll out the service as and when the spectrum is available,” Telecom Secretary Siddhartha Behura told reporters on the sidelines of a conference.

The DoS believes the WiMax operations will interfere with sensitive satellite communications in adjacent spectrum bands.

Behura, citing the example of England where WiMax rollout was deferred by a year due to unavailability of BWA spectrum, said the government is considering the issue and something would be worked out soon.

Last week, the empowered group of ministers (EGoM) set up to resolve third generation (3G) and BWA spectrum-related issues set the base price for BWA spectrum at Rs.1,750 crore for a pan-India rollout.

Only three slots will be auctioned initially, with one slot already reserved for the two state-run telecom operators-Bharat Sanchar Nigam and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam.