Govt to get Rs 24,000 cr from one-time spectrum fee

The Government is likely to get about Rs 24,000 crore from one-time spectrum fee that has been levied on existing operators for holding radiowaves beyond a prescribed limit.

Sources said Rs 4,251.83 crore is expected from retrospective charges and another Rs 18,925.82 will come from prospective charges. In all, Rs 23,977.65 crore is expected from levy of one-time spectrum fee.

Telecom operators Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular, BSNL, MTNL, Aircel and Reliance Communications will have to pay one-time spectrum fee for which demand notice is expected to be issued this week.

Earlier, telecom operators were given 4.4 MHz of spectrum with licence at price of Rs 1,658 crore for pan-India operations and later they were entitled to get 1.8 MHz spectrum on fulfilment of certain subscriber base criteria.

In November, the government decided that existing operators should pay for holding spectrum above 6.2 MHz retrospectively, from July 2008 to January 1, 2013. For spectrum above 4.4MHz, they would have to pay for the remaining period of their licences starting January 1, 2013.

The price of the spectrum was determined on the basis of the price discovered in the 1800 MHz spectrum auction last year.

Sources said the Department of Telecom (DoT) has tentatively fixed provisional rate for spectrum in 1800 Mhz band for Delhi, Mumbai, Rajasthan and Karnataka circles where it did not receive any bids, and for the more efficient 900 MHz band.

Auction of the unsold spectrum in 1800 MHz is due to start from March 11 after which auction of 900 MHz and 800 MHz will follow.

No decision was taken with respect to charging CDMA operators as the spectrum in this band attracted no bidders in November, 2012.

Sources said telecom operators have been asked to pay the amount in equal annual instalments for the balance number of years of licence in a manner that the last instalment is paid a year before the expiry of company's licences.

Telecom operators not willing to pay the one-time fee have been given the option to surrender their additional and excess spectrum.

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