Operators can use spectrum after expiry of licence period

The Department of Telecommunications is planning to issue fresh guidelines that would allow telecom operators to continue using the spectrum after the expiry of their licence period, which is 20 years from the day of issue of a licence.

The DoT has decided to take this step to do away with any kind of ambiguity on the issue as there were no clear guidelines now for the renewal of licences.

It would also help the government generate revenues once these telecom companies approach them for renewal of their licences.

“The licence for unified access services is issued on non-exclusive basis for a 20 years, extendable by 10 years at one time within the territorial jurisdiction of a licensed service area (telecom circle),” the DoT said on its website. However, it did not mention the criteria based on which the licences could be renewed.

Government sources said the Centre was planning a new licence renewal policy as licences of some old operators such as Airtel and Vodafone, which are now providing 2G services and soon offer 3G services, would expire between 2014 and 2021.

Notably, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India had recently proposed that the operators should be asked to pay a renewal fee if they want to continue to offer services at the end of the licence period.

Bharti Airtel and Vodafone had taken some of their licences in 1994-95 which means that they would have to pay a hefty amount in the next four years.

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