New Delhi: In the meeting of Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM), the Central Government has decided to take one-time spectrum fee from the companies holding spectrum of more than 4.4 megahertz.

Following the decision, there is likelihood that companies like Airtel and Vodafone may increase call rates. The decision is expected to hit the consumers directly. However, the cabinet is yet to take final call on the issue.

The EGoM has also taken decision to return the license fee of those companies whose licenses got cancelled by the Supreme Court. However, no criminal cases had been registered against them.  The decision is going to give relief for many telecom companies including Sistema and Tata Teleservices. No charges were proven against these companies in the court but the Supreme Court had cancelled licenses of all the 122 companies. These telecom licenses were given in the tenure of A Raja as a Telecom Minister in 2008.

Earlier, Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had recommended taking fees from the companies having spectrum more than 4.4 megahertz. However, the amount of one-time fee will be decided in the next auction.

The spectrum auction for cancelled licenses is soon going to happen. To resume pan India operation, the estimated auction cost would be Rs 14,000 crore. However, these companies had paid a meager sum of Rs 1,658 crore earlier. Clearty, this will put additional burden on these companies.

The government is expecting to get revenue of at least Rs 27,000 crore through the process. According to the sources, the additional fees will not be implemented from last date but it will be effective from the date of implementation. However, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) is protesting against it.


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