One-time fee for extra spectrum under consideration: Sibal
New Delhi, Aug 24 (IANS) Communications Minister Kapil Sibal Friday said the levy of one-time charges against the excess spectrum allotted to the telecom operators is under consideration of the government.
"Telecom Commission, in its meetings held during 2011, has noted the recommendations of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in this regard. Levy of one-time spectrum charges is under consideration of the government," the minister said in a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha.
Incumbent operators had been allocated spectrum beyond the contractual limit of 6.2 MHz without any additional charges.
A petition filed by the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), the body of the GSM operators, was duly rejected by the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) in 2009 and it was upheld that GSM operators do not have any vested rights to receive spectrum beyond the contractual obligation of 6.2 MHz.
COAI's petition against the TDSAT order is still pending with the Supreme Court.
Till April 2008, incumbent cellular operators were not charged anything for being allotted excess spectrum.
Since May 2008, the DoT allotted GSM spectrum beyond 6.2 MHz on the basis of an undertaking that the allocation was subject to payment of an additional one-time charge.
However, now as per TRAI's recommendation, service providers having spectrum beyond the contracted 6.2 MHz should pay spectrum charges for the remaining period of validity of their licence subject to a minimum of seven years.
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has estimated the value of allocated excess spectrum to be Rs.36,993 crore.
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