The Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India (AUSPI), the industry body of new telecom operators, has opposed the one-time charge for spectrum already held by existing licensees for the remaining period, stating it will favour incumbent GSM operators.
The Department of Telecommunications had proposed that once the price of spectrum is fixed for the upcoming auction, the existing operators should be asked to pay the price for the spectrum they currently hold. However, the government is yet to take a decision on the same.
Terming the proposal as “highly discriminatory” against its members, AUSPI said that Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular would have 8, 10 and 9 licenses respectively due for renewal out of 22 licenses in 2014 to 2016 and these companies have paid much lower amount than Rs 1,659 crores on Pan India basis for acquiring their Pan India licenses.
The association also said that metros and most of category A circles will be due for renewal in 2014 to 2016, which have much higher spectrum fee than category B and C circles. The three incumbent operators Airtel, Vodafone and Idea will be paying only for 2 to 4 years for highly priced circles, Aircel would be paying for 8 to 12 years, while Reliance and Tata will be paying for both GSM and CDMA spectrum for 8 to 12 years, it said.
The DoT has proposed that instead of charging for spectrum held beyond 4.4 MHz, incumbents should be asked to pay for the entire spectrum that they hold in order to ensure a level playing field among operators.