The government will decide if incumbent telecom operators such as Airtel, Vodafone and Tata Teleservices have to pay a market discovered price for the spectrum they currently hold.
“Spectrum pricing policy is about what is the need to pay or not to pay (by the existing operators) as far as the spectrum they already hold is concerned,” a source in the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) said on Sunday.
However, added that it will be up to the operators to decide if they wish to pay for the remaining period of their existing licences or get a new 20-year licence and pay like new operators, the source added.
After change in the policy of spectrum assignment through auction, it is recommended that the discovered price be “applicable to incumbents right from zero onwards and not above 4.4 Mhz as recommended by the Telecom Commission,” the DoT said in a note submitted to different ministries for comments.
“The Cabinet proposal is that new operators are paying from zero, then old operators should also pay from zero,” he added.
The source said the price will be charged on prospective basis and not retrospectively.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had proposed in 2010 that incumbent operators be charged for spectrum above 6.2 Mhz.
In 2011, the government announced that all spectrum allocations beyond 4.4 Mhz should be charged.
However, after the Supreme Court cancelled 122 licences issued during the term of former telecom minister A Raja, the DoT is of the view that since new operators will now have to pay the price for the entire spectrum, “there will be no level-playing field between them and those who received spectrum at administrative price.”