The Telecom Commission has deferred taking a call on the proposal of having a uniform spectrum usage charge, and will seek opinions from the Attorney General of India and a technical committee for arriving at a final decision, a senior government official said.
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“The DoT is of the view that SUC should be uniform at a revenue-neutral rate of 4.5 per cent (of a company’s adjusted gross revenue), especially in times of LTE, when there is a scope of carrier aggregation,” the official said.
As against the DoT view of 4.5 per cent, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Tari) has suggested that the SUC be kept uniform at 3 per cent of AGR.
The Cellular Operators Association of India, which represents the likes of Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular, Vodafone India, has spoken in favour of a uniform rate but has also sought an eventual reduction of SUC to 1 per cent.
Further explaining the motive to have a uniform rate, the official said that there are several bands a telecom operator uses to deploy 4G LTE services.
At the time of paying the SUC, it can calculate the charge based on which band has the lowest rate, thus causing a loss to the exchequer. The move to have a uniform SUC rate reduced chances of such arbitrage.
“The Telecom Commission felt that it should take into account the report of a DoT technical committee on whether there should be a uniform rate or not, along with a legal opinion from the Attorney General or the Solicitor General, before taking the final call,” the official said.
The official also explained that the issue was a key one, and a decision would be taken in time to keep the spectrum auctions on track as SUC is one of the important parts of the Notice Inviting Applications for the spectrum auctions.