New Delhi, Jan 28 (Agencies): Closing ranks with telecos including Bharti, Vodafone, Idea and Aircel for opposing the hike in spectrum usage charges by the Department of Telecom, Uninor approached the Supreme Court (SC) on Friday for the same.


United Wireless, which owns the brand name Uninor, has challenged the order of the sectoral tribunal TDSAT that declined to stay DoT's hike in spectrum usage charge.

A bench headed by the Chief Justice S H Kapadia admitted Uninor's petitions and directed to tag it with similar pleas filed by other telecom operators.

On October 22, while putting a stay on the TDSAT order upholding a hike in 2G telecom spectrum (radio waves) usage charges, the apex Court had directed telcos Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Bharti Hexacom (operating in Rajasthan) and Idea Cellular to deposit 50 per cent of the proposed increase in fee with court's registry.

Telecom service providers have to pay a percentage of their adjusted gross revenue (AGR) to the government as spectrum usage charge, which depends on the quantity of radio waves held by the operators.

The new charges vary between 3 and 8 per cent of AGR.

As per new charges, an operator holding spectrum up to 4.4 Mhz will have to pay 3 per cent of the AGR compared to two per cent now.

Vodafone had to pay Rs 135 crore and the two Bharti firms have a joint liability of Rs 220 crore on account of enhanced spectrum usage charges.

Challenging the TDSAT's order, operators have submitted that the tribunal had ignored Trai's recommendation and the charge was increased "without any effective and timely consultation process" and was violative of the Trai Act.

They further submitted that Trai, in its recommendation on May 11, 2010, had disagreed with the enhanced 2G spectrum usage charges fixed by DoT.