In what may come as a shock to operators looking to exit the telecom business in India, sectoral regulator Trai on Wednesday said there is no need for a separate exit policy and licence fee would will continue to be non-refundable.
The Department of Telecommunications had asked Telecom Regulatory Authority of India in October last year to recommend an exit policy for licencees who wish to exit telecom services under a licence.
"Presently, there is no need for a separate exit policy for all types of licences and the entry fee paid by the licencees will continue to be non-refundable as per their licence terms and conditions," Trai said in its recommendations on Exit Policy for various telecom licences.
Trai had asked for stakeholders' views on the proposed policy on surrender of spectrum by telecom operators and if any refund should be made, along with other provisions for the exit policy.
In its draft response in March this year, Trai had categorised licences as: 122 UAS licences given on/after January 10, 2008; basic/CMTS/UASL given prior to January 10, 2008; all other licences like NLD, ILD, ISP etc; and future licences.
Trai is of the view currently, there is no need for an exit policy for those operators whose licences were cancelled by the Supreme Court on February 2.
The apex court had quashed 122 licences given in 2008 under the then telecom minister A Raja terming them illegal. As per the judgement, the licences stand cancelled from June 2.
"The Authority does not agree with the argument of one of the stakeholders that the licencees have the option of filing a curative petition...The Authority cannot formulate a policy based on the likely outcome of a futuristic event," it said.
Licences like National Long Distance, Internet service provider etc carry low entry fee and have option to surrender their licence after giving notice.
"Present conditions in various licences with regard to surrender of licences, whereby licencee can surrender its licence by giving a notice of atleast 60 calender days (30 calender days in case of ISP licences) in advance shall continue to be applicable," Trai said.
For future licences, Trai has already recommended that all new licences issued would be Unified Licences and entry fee for pan-India licence has been kept low and will be non-refundable.