New Delhi:  Terming the ministerial panel's recommendations to impose one-time fee on spectrum above 4.4 MHz/2.5 MHz on existing operators as "arbitrary and legally untenable", telecom operators' associations have asked the government to reconsider the EGoM decision on the issue.

An Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) headed by Finance Minister P Chidambaram had proposed imposition of a one-time fee on GSM mobile operators holding more than 4.4 MHz of spectrum and CDMA operators with over 2.5 MHz airwaves.

The decision, on which Cabinet will take a final call, is expected to garner Rs 27,000 crore for the government.  Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) represents the operators like Airtel, Vodafone and Idea which use the GSM technology.

On the other hand,the Association of Unified Service Providers in India (AUSPI)represents players using dual technology and include Tata Teleservices and Reliance Communication.

COAI has written to Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal saying that such a move would increase tariffs while AUSPI in a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has sought shelving of the EGoM decision.

"Imposing one-time spectrum charges would be a retrograde step which will impact consumer tariffs directly. It also violates the right granted under the policy decision under which spectrum has already been allocated to the licencees," COAI said in its letter to Sibal.

It said operators have been paying higher spectrum charges for all spectrum allocated thus far.

"Any further additional charge by way of a one-time fee will be contradictory to DoT position on the matter," COAI said.

AUSPI said EGoM recommendations should be "reconsidered... as they are not legally tenable and against the well-established principle of bounden duty of the government to honour its existing contracts with the licensees".


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