Decision making in DoT was plagued with adhocism, says CAG in report on spectrum management

In its audit report on ‘Management of Spectrum’, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has observed that adhoc arrangement by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) for opening application windows for three/six months for the allotment of spectrum caused uncertainties of availability of resource among government users and delayed the spectrum assignments and denial of spectrum in some cases.

Post the Supreme Court judgement of February 2012 regarding the allotment of spectrum for access services, it was seen that there were adhoc arrangement in the DoT for opening application windows for three/six months for allotment/assignment of spectrum administratively for both captive users as well as for other commercial services on provisional basis.

This not only caused uncertainties of availability of resources among government users, but also delayed spectrum assignments and denial of spectrum in some cases, observed the CAG report tabled in the Parliament on Monday.

The report said that the DoT had also not reviewed the pricing of spectrum assigned for captive users administratively, on formulae basis since 2012, though a committee had recommended for a periodical review of the pricing policy in 2013.

There was no differential pricing for spectrum, depending on features and usage of various spectrum bands assigned to the government users, it said.

The CAG observed that decision making in DoT was plagued with adhocism and absence of any permanent mechanism in the department, constituting all government stakeholders to advise them on important issues relating to spectrum management comprising spectrum allocation/assignment/utilisation of assigned spectrum, re-farming and sharing of spectrum amongst government users etc.

There were no arrangements in place to study technological developments worldwide for suggesting their deployment in India for the spectrum users, as mandated by NDCP in 2018.

The DoT had instead constituted (in June 2015) seven working groups for identifying frequencies in specific spectrum bands viz 470-520 MHz, 1215-1400 MHz, 1427-1500 MHz, 1800 MHz, 1880-1900 MHz, 2300-2400 MHz and 21.2-23.6 GHz for government users.

Only four groups had submitted their final recommendations between March 2016 and February 2021 though these working groups were required to submit their recommendations within six months. However, the DoT had not taken any final decision on the recommendations received so far, the report said.

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