Developments in spectrum sharing augur a new, collaborative approach, and a change from exclusive rights apart from unlicensed spectrum for Wi-fi. While spectrum sharing was pioneered by the US and the UK, it is being pursued widely, as in trials in Finland for the European Union, and in Singapore, Japan and Korea in Asia. Shared spectrum standards under development for years are now coming to a head. Standards can lead to large volumes resulting in low prices, as for Wi-fi.
An approach to corrective action
There is an inspiring example from Bihar of how such issues can be addressed through concerted action by stakeholders. The example is from the districts where the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works on mother and child care. Something amazing has apparently happened: the various agencies are collaborating, whereas they worked in silos before. Auxiliary nurse midwives, anganwadi workers and accredited social health activists (ASHA) are co-ordinating their activities to achieve better results. There’s a communications angle, too: five major operators (Airtel, Idea, Tata, Reliance and Vodafone) have partnered with the Foundation and reduced tariffs to make their services affordable2.
There is something that stakeholders can do for spectrum (the honourable judges, DoT, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, other agencies, operators, and independent experts): they can bring their expertise and discretion to bear for beneficial solutions. These may include short-term steps, like more 2.1 GHz to create a pan-India 3G network instead of the CDMA 19003 MHz, apart from exploring possibilities for more unlicensed bands, and other forms of spectrum sharing.
shyamponappa at gmail dot com
2. “Mobile VAS takes healthcare information to Bihar villages”, Business Standard, October 11, 2012: http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/mobile-vas-takes-healthcare-information-to-bihar-villages/190863/on
3. [Added later] "Spectrum and broadband", D.P.S. Seth, The Hindu Business Line, February 8, 2013: