Indian telecoms urge uniform spectrum usage charge

The telecom industry stakeholders have written to the sector regulator on Thursday requesting uniform spectrum usage charge (SUC) rate for all operators across bands and technologies.

“…it is requested that there is an urgent need to reduce the SUC rate for all existing spectrum assigned to the operators to a low and a uniform rate across bands and technologies,” said a letter written by Rajan S Mathews, director general, Cellular Operators’ Association of India (COAI) to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) chairman RS Sharma.

The telecom industry body was welcomed the recent government proposal to reduce SUC rate from 5 percent to 3 percent.

The COAI said the high SUC burden on operators adversely impact the investment in infrastructure, and said that a uniform rate of SUC will simplify the calculations and remove all arbitrages and ambiguities.

The COAI urged the government to charge SUC at a uniform rate of 3 percent for all the spectrum. “Further, reduce the SUC rate in a phased manner to a uniform rate of 1 percent,” the letter stated.

The letter stated that industry’s payout for SUC has increased at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.22 percent from Rs 3,602 crore to Rs 7,316 crore from 2010 to 2015. At present, the industry is under the debt of around Rs 3.5 lakh crore, said COAI.