Cabinet approves Rs 11,330 crore for network spectrum for defence forces, says Ravi Shankar Prasad

NEW DELHI: The government approved higher budget allocation for laying of alternate communication network for defence services in turn for release of spectrum held by the armed forces, as part of the decisions taken by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on Wednesday.

The committee approved enhancement of budget by Rs 11,330 crore for the Network for Spectrum (NFS) project, over and above Rs 13,334 crore already approved by the Cabinet Committee on infrastructure in July 2012.

“The NFS project will boost the communication capabilities of the defence forces in major way leading to enhanced national operational preparedness,” the committee said after the approval.

“The project will have forward linkages to other related industries such as telecom equipment manufacturing and other telecom related services,” it added.

The defence ministry and telecom department had signed an agreement in 2009-10 under which the former had agreed to vacate 25 MHz of 3G spectrum and 20 MHz of 2G spectrum in phases. In return, the DoT had committed to set up an exclusive defence network for its communication services.

The project is being implemented by Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), and will be completed in a period of 24 months.

The Cabinet’s decision ratifies the one taken by the Telecom Commission, the highest decision making body in the telecom ministry, in January this year, where it approved a revised budget allocation of Rs 24,664 crore.