DoT to prepare plan to reduce disputes with telcos

DoT to prepare plan to reduce disputes with telcos

Silhouette of telecommunication towers with TV antennas and satellite dish in sunset.

With most of these disputes being related to licence fees, spectrum usage charges and one-time spectrum fees, the DoT will draw a plan to reduce litigation by simplifying the system, said an official.

Besides amicable settlement in some cases, being lenient in the case of minor issues and combining all levies into one charge are some of the ways to reduce disputes, said the official, adding that the DoT would seek the opinion of the Law Department before taking any decision.

While the government claimed that dues of telecom firms, which include penalties and interest, was the main bone of contention, telecom firms have filed petitions in various fora questioning this. According to the government, disputed spectrum user charges alone stood at Rs 25,000 crore.

The telecom operators contend litigation was affecting merger and acquisition, besides inflow of overseas investment in the sector.

Some operators suggested the DoT should have alternative dispute settlement mechanism to prevent every matter landing in courts.

The government for its part said the National Digital Communication Policy (NDCP), notified on October 22, proposed to address problem areas of the sector by reviewing levies and fees, including licence fee, spectrum usage charges and resolve long disputed definition of adjusted gross revenue on which telecom operators pay charges.

High levies

At the recently concluded India Mobile Congress-2018, several telecom companies had expressed concern over high levies on the sector and growing number of litigation.

AirTel Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal had said any policy should not focus on revenue maximisation, which is one of the reasons for litigation.

"There is an overarching objective of the earlier national telecom policy and now also enshrined in the NDCP that revenue maximisation is not the objective. Then the question is why the industry and Department of Telecom are in hundreds of litigation around only one objective of revenue maximisation," Mittal had said.

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