New Delhi: The Telecom Ministry has given in-principle approval to draft National Frequency Allocation Plan-2011, which would help in efficient spectrum management and higher mobile penetration in rural areas.

"Minister has given in-principle approval to new National Frequency Approval Plan-2011 (NFAP) draft that will surely help in better spectrum management and will also increase mobile penetration in rural areas," a source in the Department of Telecom (DoT) said.

The Plan (NFAP 2011) aims to give a boost to domestic manufacturing of telecom equipment and efficient utilization of spectrum.

The Wireless Planning Commission (WPC), the spectrum allocation wing of DoT, had issued the draft on NFAP in March. 

"The draft will now go to a Group of Ministers within a month and then it will be send to the Cabinet for approval," the source added.

Various government departments, telecom operators and telecom industry bodies COAI and AUSPI had expressed disagreement to the DoT on the various clauses under the National Frequency Allocation Plan for 2011.

Although, the final draft has rejected the concerns of these organizations. "The objections raised by organizations concerned have no technical and regulatory base," the NFAP document said.

Telecom operators and industry representatives like COAI and AUSPI had opposed the proposal that some spectrum in the frequency bands of 900, 1,400, 1,800 and 1,900 Mhz should be kept aside for companies to provide wireless services using technology and systems developed by indigenous players.

Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry had also raised concerns over the proposal to allocate 700 MHz band for mobile and wireless broadband service.

The 700 MHz spectrum band was earlier predominantly marked for broadcasting services.

Representatives from the I&B Ministry, in a NFAP meeting held in March, said the WPC needs to consider spectrum requirement of broadcasters, especially looking at Doordarshan's digitalization plan, which is expected to be completed by 2017.

Industry players, on the other hand, were of the view that since 700 Mhz remains utilized by DD for a long-time and with no clear roadmap of the public broadcaster's expansion, the band should be allocated for mobile and BWA services.

The frequency band of 700 Mhz is in high demand by players in the broadcast and mobile industry.

Any service deployed in this frequency band will need less number of base stations (towers) vis-a-vis in higher frequency band of 800, 900, 1800 and 2100 Mhz.

As per the latest TRAI data, the share of urban subscriber has marginally stood at 66.27 percent whereas share of rural subscribers stood at 33.73 percent.