Bharti-Airtel paid the highest amount as spectrum charges for the quarter ending December 2006, according to figures released by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Thursday. The highest sum in licence fee, however, has been paid by BSNL, followed by Bharti.
As spectrum fees, Bharti paid Rs 178.62 crore, followed by Hutchison Essar, which paid Rs 97.82 crore and BSNL, Rs 91.27 crore.
The figures clearly reveal a vast gap between the spectrum fees paid by GSM operators and CDMA operators. Bharti-Airtel, Hutch Essar and BSNL all use GSM technology. In contrast, Tata's Idea Cellular and Reliance Communications, which use CDMA technology, paid Rs 12.3 crore and Rs 6.93 crore respectively. Reliance's telecom footprint across the country almost matches that of Bharti, though its number of subscribers is much smaller.
"This underlines the fact that GSM operators are the largest contributors towards spectrum charges . It also reflects their larger share of the market - 121 million mobile subscribers constituting over two-third of the total subscriber figures," said a telecom analyst.
In revenue earnings BSNL fared best amongst the telecom operators with Rs 9466.39 crore, followed by Bharti-Airtel at Rs 5361 crore. Thus BSNL paid a total licence fee of Rs 691.63 crore on its adjusted gross revenue (AGR) of Rs 8493.83 crore to the government.
The Bharti group paid Rs 318.87 crore in license fee. Reliance Communications with a gross revenue of Rs 3621.26 crore paid Rs 201.92 crore in license fee to the government.