Defer proposal to charge spectrum at auction prices: AUSPI
New Delhi: Industry body AUSPI has asked telecom minister Kapil Sibal to defer the proposal to charge all spectrum held by existing operators at a price determined through auction till the outcome of Presidential Reference is known on issues arising out of 2G spectrum judgement.
"... Consideration of one-time charging of all the current spectrum held by operators for the balance period of the licences at auction discovered price should also be deferred till the outcome of the Presidential reference as is being done in respect of charging of excess spectrum for the retrospective period," AUSPI said in its letter.
The Supreme Court from July 10 on will start hearing on Presidential Reference moved by the government for its opinion on issues arising out of the 2G spectrum judgement.
Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India, which represent telecom companies like Reliance Communications and Tata Teleservices, simultaneously said that excess spectrum held by old GSM players should also be charged as soon as possible.
"Kindly recall that there cannot be any justifiable ground to delay the enforcement of the charging of fee for the excess spectrum held by old dominant GSM operators," AUSPI said.
As per the permit issued by Department of Telecom to mobile telephony service providers, a licence holder is eligible to get up to 6.2 Mhz of airwaves frequency for transmitting signals. The government allocated 4.4 Mhz spectrum initially and 1.8 Mhz of spectrum after meeting certain criteria.
However, some telecom operators were issued excess spectrum beyond 6.2 Mhz which AUSPI alleged has benefited incumbent GSM operators to the tune of Rs 1,25,000 crore.
AUSPI said the need to charge such excess spectrum has been accepted for several years but still not being implemented.
"The Telecom Commission in its meeting held in December, 2008 agreed upon the issue of charging for such excess spectrum, but the decision was postponed at the behest of one of the members of the Telecom Commission," AUSPI said.
It added that Comptroller Auditor General estimated a loss of Rs 36,993 crore on account of allotment of such excess spectrum free of cost, in its report submitted to the Parliament in November, 2010.
AUSPI further said in respect of charging of excess spectrum, the DoT is deferring the decision to charge the excess spectrum for the retrospective period since it forms a part of the Presidential reference.
"Hence, it is only fair and considered consistent for DoT to await the Supreme Court advice on Presidential Reference before considering to implement even this proposal of a one-time charge for all the currently held spectrum for the balance period of the licenses by amending the licences unilaterally," AUSPI said.