Telcos owe govt over Rs 9,600 cr in licence, spectrum charges

Telcos owe govt over Rs 9,600 cr in licence, spectrum charges New Delhi: Telecom firms owe the government a whopping Rs 9,636.34 crore as outstanding amount for spectrum usage charges and licence fees, Parliament was informed on Wednesday.

Bharti Airtel, India's largest private mobile operator, owes the maximum amount of Rs 3,275.56 for spectrum usage charges and licence fee followed by state-run BSNL (Rs 2,092.95 crore), Minister of State for Communication and IT Milind Deora said in a written reply to Lok Sabha.

Reliance Communication owes the third highest amount of Rs 1,656.23 crore, followed by Vodafone (Rs 1,122.01 crore), Tata Teleservices (Rs 458.32 crore), Idea Cellular (Rs 428.06 crore) among others, the Minister added.

The government has also imposed penalties to the tune of Rs 2,199.73 crore on operators in respect of outstanding usage charges and licence fee, Deora said.

Government earned Rs 6,889.28 crore from spectrum usage charges for 2012-13 fiscal, which includes Rs 1,706.92 crore as auction money of 2G spectrum, and Rs 8,540.71 crore as licence fee for first three quarters of the ongoing fiscal.

In the previous fiscal, the spectrum usage charges were Rs 4,856.05 crore and licence fees totalled to Rs 11,413.23 crore.

Deora added that telecom operators owe the government an outstanding amount of Rs 23,177.65 crore for one-time spectrum charges for spectrum beyond 4.4 MHz in respect of GSM spectrum.

"The operators have been given an option of deferred payment. The first instalment has not been paid by the operators, which have been taken as outstanding dues. The matter is sub-judice," he said.

Earlier, telecom operators were given 4.4 MHz of spectrum with licence at price of Rs 1,658 crore for pan-India operations and later they were entitled to get 1.8 MHz spectrum on fulfilment of certain subscriber base criteria.

The government has decided that existing operators should pay for holding spectrum above 6.2 MHz retrospectively, from July 2008 to December 31, 2012. For spectrum above 4.4MHz, they would have to pay for the remaining period of their licences starting January 1, 2013.

The operators were given the option to surrender spectrum beyond 4.4 MHz if they did not wish to pay the charges.

The price of the spectrum was determined on the basis of the price discovered in the 1800 MHz spectrum auction last year.

"Most of the aforesaid dues are under litigation," Deora told the house.

PTI