DoT to Seek Cabinet Approval to Liberalise Spectrum

DoT to Seek Cabinet Approval to Liberalise Spectrum

The Department of Telecom is going to approach the Cabinet to seek its approval for change in policy to liberalise spectrum that were allocated to mobile service providers without auction.

“The DoT will approach the Cabinet to take its approval for changing existing policy to liberalise those spectrum that were allocated administratively (without auction),” a source told PTI.

The agenda is likely to be taken up at the Cabinet meet on Wednesday.

The government expects a revenue of Rs. 98,995 crores from communication services in 2016-17, which includes realisation of demand raised by DoT from telecom operators as one-time spectrum fees.

The previous government in November 2012 had decided to charge one-time spectrum fee from telecom operators who were allocated spectrum beyond certain limit without paying for it.

Initially, telecom firms were given 4.4MHz spectrum along with licence for Rs. 1,658 crores for pan-India operations and later they were entitled to get another 1.8MHz on fulfilment of certain subscriber-base criteria. In November, the government decided that the operators should pay for holding spectrum above 6.2MHz retrospectively, from July 2008 to January 1, 2013.

After that, for spectrum above 4.4MHz, they would have to pay for the remaining period of their licences based on auction held last November. As per this decision, DoT issued demand notice to telecom operators on January 9. The government is likely to get Rs. 4,251.83 crores from retrospective charges, and Rs. 18,925.82 from prospective charges for excess radio waves held by mobile operators.

In all, around Rs. 23,177 crores is expected from levy of one-time spectrum fee.

State-owned BSNL will have to pay around Rs. 6,912 crores, followed by Bharti Airtel Rs. 5,201 crores,Vodafone Rs. 3,599 crores, MTNL Rs. 3,205 crores, Idea Cellular Rs. 2,113 crores (includes Rs. 231.5 crores of Spice), Aircel Rs. 1,365 crores (includes Rs. 14 crores of Dishnet), Loop Mobile Rs. 606 crores and Reliance Communications Rs. 173 crores.

Later, the DoT added spectrum price of 1800MHz and 900MHz band for some circles. The government has given option to telecom operators who are not willing to pay the one-time fee to surrender their additional and excess spectrum.

However, telecom operators challenged the decision. Later RCom and Tata Teleservices heeded partially to the decision but with a rider that the government will follow the outcome of pending court cases.

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