New Delhi: Telecom minister will continue to be vested with powers to finalize guidelines for new telecom licenses despite the Planning Commission demanding that such authority be exercised only by the cabinet or a ministerial panel. “The guidelines for new licences will be finalized at ministry level by the telecom minister after recommendations are made by the telecom commission,” a senior government official told PTI.
The Planning Commission is learnt to have objected to telecom minister being made the sole authority to finalize guidelines and demanded that the decision on licences be taken by the cabinet. The telecom ministry is of the view that the condition for implementing and executing unified licensing regime (ULR) remains same as it was approved by the cabinet in 2003 which authorized DoT (Department of Telecom) to finalize details for ULR implementation with its approval.
The DoT has approached the cabinet for clearing new licensing regime of unified licences as it involved discussion regarding ‘Broadcasting Licences’ - one of the licence types recommended by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) under ULR.
At present, DoT has received final recommendation from Trai which is to be discussed by inter-ministerial panel and the telecom commission.
“No date for telecom commission has been finalized yet,” the official said.
Telecom secretary R Chandrashekhar on Thursday had said that DoT will take two to three months period to work out details of unified licences.
New telecom companies looking to start business in India, especially the companies whose permits have been cancelled by the Supreme Court, will have to take unified licences.
These new licences will be different from existing telecom licences for mobile telephony that were issued with bundled spectrum at Rs 1,658 crore for pan-India operations. New companies may have to pay minimum of over Rs 18,000 crore for getting spectrum apart from licence fees which is yet to be finalized.
For unified licence framework, Trai had recommended that there shall be three levels, namely national level, service area level and district level with one time non-refundable entry fee.