TRAI starts discussion on ISPs spectrum usage charges

TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) on Friday issued a consultation paper on spectrum usage charges (SUC) for Internet service providers (ISP) and commercial very small aperture terminal service providers.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has sought stakeholders’ views by September 19 and counter-comments by October 3 this year.

The consultation paper asked: “Should minimum presumptive adjusted gross revenue (AGR) be introduced in ISP licence for the purpose of charging SUC?”

At present, there is no minimum presumptive AGR in ISP licence or Unified Licence (ISP authorisation) for the purpose of licence fee or SUC.

The 43-page consultation paper on Spectrum Usage Charges and Presumptive Adjusted Gross Revenue for Internet Service Providers and Commercial Very Small Aperture Terminal Service Providers asked a dozen questions to the industry stakeholders.

The consultation paper also tried to clarify: “If AGR based SUC is introduced, whether the percentage of AGR should be uniform for all ISP licenses or should it be different, based on revenue/spectrum-holding/any other suitable criteria?”

As per information available on the Department of Telecom (DoT) website, there were 262 ISP licences as of December 31, 2015.

On June 29, 2012, DoT amended the ISP licence and levied a uniform licence fee of eight per cent of AGR with effect from April 1, 2013 on both ISP and ISP with Internet telephony (ISP-IT) licence.

The paper said that on being enquired about the rationale behind DoT’s decision to migrate from computation of spectrum charges based on formula to spectrum charges as a percentage of AGR, DoT, through its letter dated March 2 clarified: “It was decided that ISPs have also been brought under Unified Licensing fee regime with effect from July 1, 2012.”

“What mechanism should be devised for ISP licensees to identify revenue generated from use of spectrum and revenue generated without use of spectrum,” the paper asked.

Public internet services in India were launched on August 15, 1995 by Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited (VSNL).

In November 1998, the government recognised the need for encouraging spread of internet in the country and opened the sector for provisioning of Internet services by private operators. IANS