Airtel, Vodafone, Idea and Uninor have demanded for uniform annual spectrum fee
In a letter to the department of communications (DoT), PMO and empowered group of ministers (EGoM) the telcos such as Airtel, Vodafone, Idea and Uninor have demanded that a uniform annual spectrum fee of 1 percent across the industry be implemented to ensure the success next round of spectrum auction to be held in January.
“Implement a flat SUC (Spectrum Usage Charge) before the upcoming auction. In case the same is not immediately possible, apply a uniform SUC to all technologies, e.g. all LTE (4G) technology deployment across any spectrum band should attract same current SUC of 1 percent,” the letter saidoint letter said.
Under the current system, the government levies between 3% and 8% of telecom operators’ revenue as spectrum usage charge, depending on the quantity of airwaves held by them.
This annual fee is currently 1 percent for firms broadband wireless spectrum including Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd (RJIL) and Tikona.
The Regulator has recommended implementation of 3 percent uniform spectrum usage charge across telecom industry with effect from April 1, 2014.
In the joint letter Bharti Airtel CEO Gopal Vittal, Vodafone India CEO Marten Pieters, Idea Cellular Managing Director Himanshu Kapania, Uninor CEO Sigve Brekke have demanded a more level-playing field in this matter.
“Not taking strong and affirmative action at this critical juncture could result in even more opacity and an auction design that is flawed and discriminatory,” the letter said.
“As you may be aware, 167.50MHz of spectrum in 1800MHz (2G) band remained unsold in the November 2012 auctions. Even taking today’s reserve prices… the loss to the government exchequer on account of this unsold spectrum is around Rs. 4,900 crores upfront and about Rs. 1,960 crores per year,” the letter said.