Telecom cos may have to pay for excess spectrum

New Delhi, Jan 19 (IANS) Telecom companies which provide services on the GSM platform may have to shell out a one-time fee for holding spectrum in excess of 4.4 Mhz, Telecom Secretary R. Chandrasekhar said Thursday.

Around 90 percent of India’s 880 million mobile phone users subscribe to Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) technology-based mobile offered by players like Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea.
“We will have to wait for the final decision, but there has been a recommendation that going forward the charges would be levied for spectrum above 4.4 Mhz,” Chandrasekhar said on the sidelines of a conference here.
The Telecom Commission, the highest decision-making body in the department of telecommunications (DoT) has recommended a slew of changes in the framework governing telecom firms.
According to the recommendations companies providing the code-division multiple access (CDMA) services would also have to pay for spectrum in excess of 2.5 Mhz.
However, all this needed government approval to be part of a new policy, he said.
The commission recommended levying a one-time fee on companies which hold spectrum beyond the prescribed limit and using an auction process to determine the price of spectrum.
“One of the recommendations has been that an auction process would be an appropriate way to arrive at the price of spectrum,” Chandrasekhar said.
The government is in the process of introducing a new policy for the sector called the “new telecom policy” which will see licenses being de-linked from spectrum.