Information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry of India plans to use spectrum in 700 MHz for mobile TV services in the country.
This is in contrast with the plans of communications ministry, which wants to use this spectrum for wireless broadband services in the country.
The I&B ministry said that it may require about 96 units of airwaves in the 700 MHz band for mobile TV services in the country.
Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in its recommendation has said that all private and state-owned firms, including telecom firms and broadcasters, be given airwaves in the 700 MHz band through an auction process for launching mobile TV services.
There is no clear pattern internationally as some countries have allocated spectrum especially for mobile TV, while other let the operators use their existing bandwidth to offer these services.
700 MHz band is very lucrative for wireless broadband services as it requires three times lower investment in equipment compared to currently used 2.3 MHz band (Reliance Infotel has spectrum in this band).
The country has about 108 units of airwaves in the 700 MHz band that can be utilised for commercial services, half of which is used by Doordarshan, while the armed forces have about 36 units or MHz. The remaining 24 MHz is held by other government agencies.
In a country starved of spectrum, thanks to so many players being there and also because much of it has been under utilised and blocked by various state agencies, there is not much sense in allocating this spectrum to just mobile TV services.
It should be given to the operators who can offer Mobile TV services based on the demand. Lower cost of rollout in this band will also help lower the broadband prices in country, which currently has less than 7 per cent of its population using internet.
While the other argument can be that, as mobile TV is network intensive, it will require dedicated spectrum band to be viable.
I&B ministry meanwhile is preparing regulatory framework for this industry, and is said to be determined to get this spectrum band for TV services.
And why not spectrum is such a precious commodity, why would any ministry want to part with it.