“We once again request the government to decide this critical issue of SUC (spectrum usage charge) well before the start of auctions to enable operators to taken an informed decision," Airtel said in a letter to Telecom Secretary MF Farooqui on January 21.
The company said interested operators have already submitted applications on January 15 and spectrum usage charge is an important component of the overall valuation of spectrum.
The spectrum usage charge, 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 the telecom companies. It varies from three to eight percent.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has suggested that a uniform fee three to five 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 is demanding that the government implements the Trai suggestion.
On the other hand, Reliance Jio and Videocon Telecom are opposing any change in existing SUC regime, especially, airwaves 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 one percent spectrum usage charge.
The applicants include Reliance Jio Infocomm, Vodafone, Airtel, Aircel, Tata Teleservices, Idea Cellular, Telewings (Uninor) and Reliance Communications.
The Finance Ministry has suggested that mobile operators winning in the auction should be charged only three percent of their revenue as annual fee for radio waves they hold.
For BWA players, the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) suggested continuation of one percent, but charge them weighted average of three percent and one percent if they buy spectrum in the upcoming auction.
The DEA has suggested some other options as well, which include charge of three percent on spectrum won in auction. For BWA players, DEA has suggested continuation of one percent but charge them weighted average of three percent and one percent if they buy spectrum in the upcoming auction.
For those who don't buy any spectrum in the due auction, DEA has suggested charging them as per existing rate slab. The option suggested by DEA will be discussed at the Telecom Commission meeting scheduled for January 25.


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