The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry plans to allocate to commercial mobile phone operators some of the frequencies currently used for public services, ministry sources said Monday.

The ministry will soon set up a study panel to work out details of the plan, such as the number of cell phone operators to receive the new allocation of frequencies, they said. The plan could go into effect in fiscal 2005, they said.

The plan is aimed at promoting competition by encouraging more companies to enter the cell phone market.

The 1.7-gigahertz band is under review. The ministry is considering opening up a band of around 30 megahertz for cell phone operators, the sources said.

The planned allocation of new frequencies will be used exclusively for third-generation cell phone services with high-speed access to the Internet and is expected to make such services available to some 15 million subscribers.

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