12th Five Year Plan suggests audit of spectrum usage

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12th Five Year Plan suggests audit of spectrum usage
The government needs to audit spectrum usage and refarming of airwaves to ensure efficient utilisation of the natural resource, the 12th Five Year Plan document has said.

The 12th Plan (2012-17) said a "significant amount of additional spectrum" would be needed with the introduction of new technologies, high bandwidth applications and increasing user base.

"While effective spectrum planning in this regard needs to be carried out, the requirement of spectrum in 60GHz and above bands for all backhaul purposes, audit of spectrum usage and refarming of spectrum to ensure the efficient utilisation should also be taken into account during the 12th Plan Period," it added.

Under refarming of spectrum, telecom operators with 900MHz airwaves will have to give these up and bid for the less efficient 1800MHz at current prices.

These telcos will be allowed to retain 2.5MHz spectrum in the 900MHz band, but that will also have to happen at auction determined prices.

The 12th Plan targets provision of 1,200 million connections, mobile access to all villages and increase rural teledensity to 70 percent, broadband connections of 175 million by 2017.

It also envisages making available additional 300MHz of spectrum for IMT services and making India a hub for telecom equipment manufacturing by incentivising domestic manufacturers with thrust on IPR, product development and commercialisation.

"The 12th Plan Programmes for telecom sector are guided by the National Telecom Policy 2012. The thrust of NTP 2012 is on raising the competitiveness of Indian telecom sector, to make it a world leader," the document said.

The 12th Plan suggests that Universal Service Obligation (USO) Fund needs to be leveraged for providing incentives for pilot projects, fixed wireline/wireless phones, use of renewable energy sources, telecom infrastructure and for wireline broadband in rural difficult terrain and Left wing extremist (LWE) areas.

On financing of telecom sector, the document said the sector should be allowed to access funding from Indian Infrastructure Finance Company (IIFCL).

"Telecom Finance Corporation may be created as a vehicle to access funds at competitive rates to facilitate the funding needs of this sector on requirement," it said.

Rationalisation of levies and taxes in the sector may also be reviewed from time to time to ensure affordable delivery of services to consumers, it added.

Further, it added that development of new applications, VAS and devices would be triggered by e-Governance projects and growth of broadband in rural areas.

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Further reading: refarming, spectrum auction, Telecom
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