Sandeep Joshi

NEW DELHI: The Department of Telecommunications on Tuesday recommended a three per cent spectrum user charge for stand-alone 3G (third generation) mobile service operators.

For existing mobile operators who secure spectrum to offer 3G services also, the charge would be an additional one per cent of their average gross revenue apart from what they pay for possessing the 2G spectrum.

By imposing a higher licence fee for stand-alone 3G operators, the government is trying to create a level-playing field for the two categories (those offering 2G and 3G services and those offering only 3G services). Mostly foreign players are likely to enter the 3G field in partnership with Indian firms holding the licence and getting spectrum through open auction.

“The Telecom Commission has approved the proposal, but it is yet to get the nod from Communications Minister A. Raja,” Telecom Secretary Siddhartha Behura said.

The Commission also cleared the proposal to impose one per cent additional spectrum usage charges for radio waves below 8 MHz and two per cent above 8 MHz. This would come into effect from January next, he said. The move is likely to generate an additional Rs.4,000 crore-Rs.5,000 crore for the exchequer as mobile operators such as Airtel, Vodafone Essar and Idea will have to shell out more.

Lock-in period

The DoT has also proposed a three-year lock-in period on stake sales by promoters of new telecom companies. These operators cannot issue special dividend during these three years. The DoT, however, could not decide on the proposal to levy a one-time charge on players having over 6.2 MHz of spectrum.

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