08:37 pm - Thursday 28 August 2014

DoT issues fresh notice to three leading telecom operators

By insightVAS - Thu Feb 14, 12:58 pm

The three leading telecom operators, Vodafone, Bharti Airtel and Reliance Communications has been slapped with fresh notice issued by the Department of Telecommunications, demanding that they pay an additional revenue share for spectrum usage from 2008 onwards.

The officials of Telecom Department said that similar notices are being issued to the remaining operators within the next few days.

Four separate notices has been issued to Vodafone to pay an additional charge which amounts to Rs 877 crore. At the same time Airtel has been issued several notices toaling over Rs 1,200 crore towards this charge on  Wednesday and the company is expected to receive the same by Friday.

A Reliance Communications executive said the company had received notices towards additional charges for airwaves, but declined to reveal the amount the company has been asked to pay up.

Telecom companies share certain per cent of their revenues towards spectrum usage charges and the government is of the view that revenue share is applicable on ‘total aggregate gross revenues‘ (AGR) of the operator. Telcos on the other hand argue this charge is applicable on only on revenues from mobile services.

An executive with a mobile phone company said the DoT had begun calculating higher revenue share, including sales from non-telecom activities from 2005, but this could not be independently confirmed by the news source. The notices issued for Vodafone, which were reviewed by the news source, are for the 2008-12 period.

It is only after the apex court gave its verdict in October 2011 that government can collect revenue share from non-telecom activities, the Telecom Department started issuing notices, said a DoT official.

The official said that the DoT had now recalculated the licence fee and had included revenues from corporate receipts, handset sales, real estate transactions and interest earned from bank deposits, among others, as the apex court had ruled that its (telecom ministry’s) jurisdiction on this issue cannot be questioned.

The Supreme Court also said that the telecom regulator and the telecom tribunal had no jurisdiction to decide on the validity of the terms and conditions of the licence, including the definition of AGR incorporated in the licence agreement.

But an executive with a mobile phone company said that operators had appealed against the Supreme Court ruling and telcos would therefore approach the court again seeking a stay.

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