Seminar on Mobile Broadband and Spectrum

15 Mar, 2013

  • Highlights
  • Agenda

In a seminar organised by ICRIER on March 15, 2013, Mr. Parag Kar, Vice President, Government Affairs, Qualcomm (India & South Asia), presented his findings on the economics of mobile broadband spectrum in India. He began by highlighting the complexity of the subject and reasons why it was misunderstood. As India stepped into a new paradigm of “mobile data”, there was an urgent need for policy intervention to enable its faster adoption. Affordable tariffs could be a driver of mobile broadband in India, if operators were assigned additional spectrum. The current level of spectrum available to operators is miniscule compared to global averages, and the allocation mechanism is non-transparent. According to Mr. Kar, harmonising spectrum enables scale to be achieved that eventually brings down the cost of service provision. Affordable tariffs and devices could drive the adoption of mobile broadband in India. Mr. Kar also highlighted the costs and benefits associated with each band of spectrum. The 2.1 GHz band, with best characteristics, is deployed in all three ITU regions. He recommended that additional slots in the 2.1 GHz band be made available by reallocating the current unused spectrum of 1900 MHz. This would be an ideal situation benefitting all stakeholders, including the government, defence establishments, consumers, operators, and vendors. It would be difficult to achieve similar success using other bands of spectrum. The only other option that comes close to 2.1 GHz is the 900 MHz band.