mobile-sms-635The “complex” issue of spectrum usage charge will be cleared in EGoM’s meeting on Monday ahead of auction of radiowaves planned from February 3, Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal said Friday.

“The EGoM will be meeting on January 27 on SUC and therefore it will be cleared before the auction and before the date of withdrawal of applications by the companies,” Sibal told reporters Mumbai.

Ahead of EGoM, the inter-Ministerial panel Telecom Commission is expected take a call on SUC and other long-pending issues, which will be placed before the EGoM for the final nod on Monday, the last day for withdrawal of applications filed by telecom companies.

Spectrum usage charge (SUC), a bone of contention between leading GSM players and Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio Infocomm, is levied annually as a percentage of revenue earned by telecom companies. It varies from 3-8 percent.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had suggested a uniform fee 3-5 percent from April 1, across telecom services for the success of the next round of spectrum auction.

GSM industry body Cellular Operators Association of India, which included operators like BhartiAirtel , Vodafone and Idea, is demanding that the government implement the TRAI suggestion.

On the other hand, Reliance Jio and Videocon Telecom are opposing any change in existing SUC regime, specially those radiowaves that have been already allocated

If TRAI’s recommendations are accepted, then it will burden firms holding broadband wireless access spectrum, including Reliance Jio that at present pays 1 percent spectrum usage charge.

When asked about whether the government is open to a uniform SUC charges, Sibal said that it is a complex issue and no decision has been taken on it.

He added: “There are legacy issues. People have got spectrum at different rates, at different times and at different prices and any decision we take which has an impact on one set of players actually is against the other set of players.

“So we need to be very careful that we don’t be seen to be favouring one set of players but at the same time rationalise the sector.”

“We have to make sure that revenue to the government don’t stop. These are complexities in the issue and so we are going to the EGoM on Monday,” Sibal said.


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