New Delhi: The government will shortly move the telecom tribunal TDSAT or the Supreme Court for implementation of revised spectrum charges from 1 April on which top three telecom operators (Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea) have got an interim stay.
The government plea would be based on its authority to levy these statutory charges, sources said, adding the operators have surrendered their right to challenge review of licence fee or spectrum charges as per their licence agreements after they moved from fixed licence regime to the revenue-share model.
In an interim order, the TDSAT stayed the implementation of the hike in spectrum charges with effect from 1 April over petitions filed by Bharti, Vodafone and Idea.
The TDSAT Bench comprising chairman Justice S B Sinha and Member (Technical) G D Geha stayed the directions of the DoT proposing a hike in spectrum charges but said that it would be subject to the outcome of petitions.
According to the three telecom operators, the hike in spectrum charges varying between 3-8% of adjusted gross revenue (AGR) is “arbitrary and discriminatory”, a view strongly contested by the DoT.
The DoT is of the view that hike in spectrum charges is across the board and therefore it cannot be discriminatory. It was contemplated for long and the decision has not been taken arbitrarily.
Asked about next step DoT plans to take, sources said they would take a legal view before taking further decision on whether to approach court or TDSAT, or talk to operators directly on the issue.
When contacted the companies declined to comment saying the matter is subjudice.
As per new charges, an operator holding spectrum up to 4.4 Mhz will be paying 3% of AGR against 2% now. Most of the incumbent players other than those who got licences in January 2008 have more than 4.4 MHz of spectrum.
The CDMA players with spectrum up to 5 Mhz will now have to pay 3% of their AGR as spectrum charge instead of 2% earlier. For GSM operators having spectrum up to 8.2 Mhz spectrum, the charges will now go up from 4% to 5% and for spectrum up to 10.2 Mhz that would be 6% of their AGRs instead of earlier 4%.
Similarly, for a CDMA player having spectrum up to 10 Mhz the charges would rise by 50% from earlier 4% to 6% now. A GSM player having spectrum up to 12.2 Mhz will now have to pay 7% of AGR instead of earlier 5% and for having spectrum up to 15.2 Mhz it now have to pay a whopping 8% of their AGR in place of the the existing 6% levy.