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The government expects a revenue of `98,995 crore from communication services in 2016-17, which includes realisation of demand raised by DoT from telecom operators as one-time spectrum fees. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint
The government expects a revenue of `98,995 crore from communication services in 2016-17, which includes realisation of demand raised by DoT from telecom operators as one-time spectrum fees. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint

DoT to seek Cabinet nod to change norms to liberalize spectrum

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

New Delhi: The department of telecom is going to approach the cabinet to seek its approval for change in policy to liberalize 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 liberalize those spectrum that were allocated administratively (without auction)," a person in the know said.

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

The government expects a revenue of 98,995 crore 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 4.4 MHz spectrum along with licence for 1,658 crore for pan-India operations and later they were entitled to get another 1.8 MHz on fulfilment of certain subscriber-base criteria.

In November, the government decided that the operators should pay for holding spectrum above 6.2 MHz retrospectively, from July 2008 to 1 January 2013.

After that, for spectrum above 4.4 MHz, 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 9 January. The government is likely to get 4,251.83 crore from retrospective charges, and 18,925.82 from prospective charges for excess radio waves held by mobile operators. In all, around 23,177 crore is expected from levy of one-time spectrum fee.

State-owned BSNL will have to pay around 6,912 crore, followed by Bharti Airtel 5,201 crore, Vodafone 3,599 crore, MTNL 3,205 crore, Idea Cellular 2,113 crore (includes 231.5 crore of Spice), Aircel 1,365 crore (includes 14 crore of Dishnet), Loop Mobile 606 crore and Reliance Communications 173 crore. Later, the DoT added spectrum price of 1800 Mhz and 900 Mhz 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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