The Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) on telecom headed by Finance Minister P. Chidambaram is scheduled to meet on Wednesday to take a decision on the issue of the one-time spectrum fee.
Back in July, the Cabinet had referred the matter to EGoM seeking its view. Later in the month, EGoM had postponed its verdict till the outcome of Presidential Reference. According to a Firstpost report, the DoT has made four proposals to the Cabinet on one-time fee — no charge; charge a one-time fee on all airwaves held by existing telecos; charge a fee on airwaves held beyond the start-up spectrum of 4.4MHz; or charge a fee on airwaves held beyond the contracted spectrum of 6.2MHz.
Earlier, the operators were given spectrum beyond the contractual limit of 6.2MHz without any additional charges. However, the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) in a 2009 verdict said that the GSM operators were not authorised to use spectrum beyond the contractual limit.
It's learnt that the telcos were not charged any money for the excess spectrum till April 2008. Since May 2008, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) earmarked the excess spectrum beyond 6.2MHz, taking into consideration the undertaking that the allocation was “subject to payment of an additional one-time charge”, according to a Business Today report.
The fresh DoT recommendation makes it compulsory for the service providers having spectrum beyond the contractual limit to pay charges for the remaining period validity of their license.
Separately, the DoT has sought bids for 12th November 2G spectrum auction and has also made it clear that operators who lost licenses post the Supreme Court verdict in 2G case will be treated as new bidders.
The DoT guidelines for the auction say teclos will be asked to pay one time, non-refundable entry fee of Rs. 1 crore. “It has also put forth that a 100% foreign owned entity can also bid and that bidders cannot meet rollout norms via intra circle roaming pacts,” says a Bloomberg report.