Telecom Lead India: The Telecom Commission is likely to
finalize on Friday the guidelines for issuing new mobile permits.
The new licensing guidelines will be finalized after
considering TRAI’s recommendations of having a single licence for offering all
communication services and delinking spectrum from licences.
However, proposals relating to the airwaves sale will be
taken up on priority while those relating to migration of permits to the
unified regime and other peripheral issues would be dealt with at a later
stage, telecom secretary R Chandrasekhar said.
By Friday, the commission is likely to decide on the type
of licence to be given for service areas they would get, type of services that
will be allowed, eligibility conditions, and financial terms, including bank
guarantees and performance bank guarantees. Accordingly, the migration of
existing licences and bringing telecom tower companies under the unified
licensing regime will be decided later.
Recently, TRAI had recommended that telcos should be
given licences delinked from spectrum, on national, service and district levels
for a maximum one-time non-refundable fee of Rs 15 crore. Earlier, a pan-India
mobile permit cost Rs 1,658 crore and came bundled with 4.4 MHz of startup
airwaves. Telcos had to take separate licences for offering different services.
TRAI had also suggested that Internet Service Providers
(ISPs) and tower companies be brought under the unified licensing regime under
which they would have to pay a certain percentage of their annual revenue as
licence fee, as against no such fee at present.
Trai had also advocated reducing the foreign direct
investment limit for telecom infrastructure providers to 74 percent from 100
percent now within three years of the unified licensing regime being ushered
in. The telecom industry has opposed these recommendations. Recently, a telecom
department panel examining these recommendations said they would hurt ISPs and
tower infrastructure providers as migrating existing licence holders to the new
regime would discourage entry of new players.
Meanwhile, the last date for submitting applications by
telecom operators for 2G spectrum auction is October 19, 2012 and the
government is not able to finalize its fund raising targets.
The base price is Rs 14,000 crore. The government is
expecting significant participation from the new operators. Some of the
existing operators which require additional spectrum may also participate in
the auction. But DoT is unable to finalize its targets as the telecom industry
is currently in the process of evaluating its options. Main operators are
likely to skip the auction as they cannot afford to pay a part of the spectrum
fee. New operators are likely to look at buying spectrum in select circles.
Reliance Industries is likely to look for a pan-India license.