Telecom major Bharti Airtel has asked the Department of Telecom to decide on spectrum usage charges before auction starts on February 3. Also Read - Airtel introduces new postpaid plans with more data, refreshes Family postpaid plans too
“We once again request the government to decide this critical issue of SUC well before the start of auctions to enable operators to taken an informed decision,” Airtel said in a letter to Telecom Secretary MF Farooqui on January 21.
The company said interested operators have already submitted applications on January 15 and spectrum usage charge (SUC) is an important component of the overall valuation of spectrum.
The spectrum usage charge (SUC), a bone of contention between leading GSM players and Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio Infocomm, is levied annually as a percentage of revenue earned by telecom companies. It varies from 3-8 per cent.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (Trai) has suggested a uniform fee 3-to 5 percent from April 1 across telecom services for the success of the next round of spectrum auction.
GSM industry body Cellular Operators Association of India is demanding that the government implement Trai suggestion.
On the other hand, Reliance Jio and Videocon Telecom are opposing any change in existing SUC regime, specially airwaves that have been already allocated.
If Trai’s recommendations are accepted, then it will burden firms holding broadband wireless access spectrum, including Reliance Jio that at present pays 1 percent spectrum usage charge.
The applicants include Reliance Jio Infocomm, Vodafone, Airtel, Aircel, Tata Teleservices, Idea Cellular, Telewings (Uninor) and Reliance Communications.
The Finance Ministry has suggested that mobile operators winning in the auction should be charged only 3 percent of their revenue as annual fee for radiowaves they hold.
For BWA players, the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) suggested continuation of 1 percent, but charge them weighted average of 3 percent and 1 percent if they buy spectrum in upcoming auction.
The DEA has suggested some other options as well which include charge of 3 per cent on spectrum won in auction. For BWA players, DEA has suggested continuation of 1 percent, but charge them weighted average of 3 percent and 1 percent if they buy spectrum in upcoming auction.
For those who don’t buy any spectrum in the due auction, DEA has suggested charging them as per existing rate slab.
The option suggested by DEA will be discussed at the Telecom Commission meeting scheduled for January 25.