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CAG plans Spectrum Audit – Is it too late?

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Post scandalous 2G fiasco, the regulators have now shifted their focus on the face-saving measures to rescue the valuable radio frequency bandwidth – be it through cancelling of licenses acquired illegally or optimum utilization of telecom spectrum sold to wireless firms.

Currently, there are no policies in several areas of spectrum management to ensure that the valuable resource is adequately and effectively used. Once the spectrum is sold to a wireless company or a broadcaster, there are no policing efforts to check the utilization of allocated spectrum.

There is no law governing inefficient bandwidth usage and the quantum of allocations, including its strategic and commercial use, made to various operators and government agencies including the space department as well.

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In latest, the CAG plans a comprehensive audit of the total spectrum available in India and the efficiency of its usage. This spectrum audit will serve in assorting key usage data and bandwidth patterns, eventually enabling sound future policies on spectrum sharing and spectrum trading for the vacant portion.

How can Spectrum Audit be useful?

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Keeping a check on spectrum utilization can be useful in many ways. At first, it would result in application of market mechanisms to the bands in question. It will also lead to greater transparency in the public sector spectrum management. Lastly, It will give birth to opportunities for active band-sharing amongst the wireless operators within the country.

The open spectrum approach to the bandwidth access can help in achieving optimal utilization of the scarce resource by allowing the devices to utilize ideal capacities opportunistically. The growth of wireless telecommunications depends on availability and efficient management of frequency spectrum.

A spectrum audit would provide deeper insight into the requirement, allocation, optimal utilization and cost of spectrum that could go into solving crucial frequency-related deliberations. The Communications ministry led by Kapil Sibal has stressed on the fact that the industries need to adopt the principle of corporate collaborations and co-existence and share the available spectrum.

There should be an effective frequency monitoring system that analyses the distribution system and plugs loopholes such as unauthorized transmission and other interferences in the bandwidth. A superior monitoring system-driven optimally utilized spectrum could go a long way in realizing higher revenues to both the user and the exchequer.

Don’t you feel this policing step has come a bit too late? But, as the cliché goes – Better late then never!

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