Karela Fry

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Spectrum rules

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Hindu Business Line broke news of a different problem in spectrum allocation:

Though ISRO does not come under the DoT or TRAI, spectrum usage by all Government agencies is monitored by them. The Department of Space has been given 150 Mhz of spectrum in the 2500 Mhz band. Of this, Devas Multimedia would get access to 70 Mhz along with the transponders it has leased on two new satellites to be launched by ISRO. The pact between Devas and ISRO arm Antrix was signed in 2005.

The DoT officials added that the Department of Space (DoS) had objected to when the Government had asked it to give up some part of the 2500 Mhz band for auctioning to private mobile operators in 2010. DoS had objected to it on grounds that the spectrum was required for strategic purposes.

The DoS had also said that it could result in interference with its satellite projects. Only one slot of 20 Mhz was given to Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd for Rs 12,847 crore. On the other hand, Devas would get access to 70 Mhz for just over Rs 1,000 crore.

Within a day CNN-IBN reported:

On Tuesday evening, the country’s premier space research organisation, ISRO, in a rare press conference, came out to publicly defend the S-band spectrum deal with private firm Devas Multimedia.

Forty eight hours after the media raised the scam, the PMO stepped in denying any loss of revenue, saying no S-band spectrum was allocated to the private entity – Devas Multimedia.
The ISRO, echoing the Government’s sentiment, said while the Antrix-Devas contract did take place with Cabinet approval, the decision to annul it was also taken unilaterally in 2009.

“The agreement was finalised and approved at Antrix board in 2005 and in December 2009, the ISRO decided to have a comprehensive review of the contract,” said ISRO Chairman Dr K Radhakrishnan.

The bottomline remained that the red flag to this deal was raised long ago.

The internal audit of the Department of Space, also shared with the PMO, raised the very same concerns in 2010 that why was 70 Mhz of spectrum allocated to Devas Multimedia without a tender and that a regulatory framework for S-band services wasn’t put in place.

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