DefMin not for opening spectrum for civil use

The Defence Ministry on Monday indicated it was not averse to releasing spectrum for mobile services provided it is assured of a safe and dedicated network.

“We are committed to expansion of our communication and telecom system… (but) our only concern is that armed forces should have a safe and dedicated network,” Defence Minister A K Antony said here.

Antony’s comment comes as pressure piles up from telecom companies and the Ministry on opening up 45 MHz of spectrum currently lying with defence forces.

The telecom ministry feels that this is crucial to achieve the government target of increasing mobile subscriber base from 122 million to 250 million by the year end.

“We are all Indian citizens, including the armed forces, who are are alive to the needs of the nation,” Antony said, adding that “we are trying to discuss and sort out the issues at the earliest,” he said.

With the Defence and Telecom Ministries at loggerheads on the defence spectrum issue, the government has constituted a Group of Ministers headed by A K Antony to adjudicate the issue.

Speaking on the sidelines of a function, Antony indicated that the GoM would hold its first meeting soon.

Finance Minister P Chidambaram, Communications Minister A Raja and Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia are other members of the GoM.

According to highly placed sources, Army and Navy have reservations on releasing spectrum as according to their projections, the armed forces would need broader bandwidth for network centric operations as well as hook up battlefield management via satellite network.