India telecom regulator recommends single license

Telecom Lead India: TRAI has recommended the government
to offer telecom services under one license and charge an entry fee of INR 150
million ($2.9 million) for a permit covering the whole country.

The guideline is expected to simplify the procedure.

TRAI, in its recommendations for new telecom licensing
regime, said, In the new licensing regime, as the spectrum has been delinked
from the license, it has been recommended that TRAI should be entrusted with
the function of granting all types of Unified licences.”

At present, companies need to take separate permits for
each of India’s 22 telecom service areas and for different offerings such as
fixed-line services, basic mobile telephony and Internet.

Meanwhile, Telecom Secretary R Chandrashekhar said DoT will
try and speed up the new licensing regime in less than three months.

Once approved, telecom companies can apply for telecom
licences without owning spectrum and can perform businesses that can be carried
out without using spectrum.

For Unified Licence framework, TRAI has recommended that
there shall be three levels, namely National level, Service area level and
District level.

TRAI recommended one-time non-refundable Entry Fee for
Unified Licence shall be Rs 15 crore for National level, Rs 1 crore for each
Service area level Unified Licences, except for Jammu and Kashmir and North
East Service areas where Entry fee will be Rs 50 lakh each.

For each District level Unified Licence, the regulator
has requested non-refundable entry fee of Rs 10 lakh. Till date, DoT issues all
kind of telecom licences.

Apart from the entry fee, operators will need to continue
paying a portion of their adjusted gross revenue as annual license fee, it

In February, the telecom minister said under unified
licenses, telecom companies would have to pay 8 percent of their adjusted gross
revenue as fees.

Telecom operators currently pay 6-10 percent of their
revenue as license fees for basic mobile services, depending on the areas in
which they operate.

The proposals will be discussed by the Telecom
Commission. They are expected to become part of a new telecom policy, which
will likely be announced by June.

The regulator has also suggested bringing telecom tower
companies under the license regime and proposed that foreign companies be
allowed to hold up to a 74 percent stake in tower firms, as is the case for
telecom operators.

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