ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Spectrum for a Song

A lopsided deal that awarded S-band spectrum for a song shows the government in poor light.

The sweetheart deal between Antrix Corporation, the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), and Devas Multimedia in 2005 has turned out to be yet another embarrassment for the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (upa) government. (As we go to press, the government, invoking “sovereign” interests, has annulled the contract.) The agreement involved the design, building and launch of two commercial satellites, GSat-6 and GSat-6A, by ISRO and the delivery to Devas Multimedia of a leased capacity on the primary satellite and access to transponders. This would have allowed the delivery of spectrum for use by Devas Multimedia with which it intended to introduce commercial broadband multimedia services.

It is important to note that of the 190 MHz of spectrum in the S-band for mobile and broadcast satellite services, 150 MHz was made available to the Department of Space. And comparatively, 20 MHz from the same band was sold to the Bharat Sanchar Nigam and the Mahanagar Telephone Nigam for a cost of Rs 12,847 crore, far higher than the mere Rs 1,000 crore for 70 MHz in the S-band to be used commercially by Devas Multimedia for a period of 20 years. The contract also enabled Devas Multi media to sublease the spectrum without any approval from ISRO.

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