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Trai issues spectrum usage charges sop

In a relief to operators, the telecom regulator has said spectrum usage charges (SUC) will be levied only on the shared spectrum band and not on all the bands of a licensee.

Regulator Trai clarified that in cases involving the sharing of radiowaves, the stipulated increment of 0.5 per cent on the SUC rate should apply only on the spectrum held in the specific band where sharing is taking place and not on the entire spectrum holding of the licensee.

The telecom regulator has also recommended that suitable exit clauses for the termination of existing spectrum-sharing arrangement by the operators be included in the spectrum sharing guidelines. At present, companies pay 3-5 per cent of their adjusted gross revenue as spectrum usage charge to the department of telecom.

If they share spectrum with another operator, operators must pay an additional 0.5 per cent of AGR for that band as SUC. The recommendations are the outcome of a consultation paper titled “Methodology of applying spectrum usage charges under the weighted average method of SUC assessment in cases of spectrum sharing” that was floated by Trai in April this year.

At present, companies pay 3-5 per cent of their adjusted gross revenue (AGR) as spectrum usage charge to the department of telecom. If they share spectrum with another operator, operators must pay an additional 0.5 per cent of AGR for that band as SUC.

In January, the telecom department had said the existing norms for sharing of access spectrum by operators provide that the SUC rate of each of the licencees post sharing increases by 0.5 per cent of the AGR.

The Department of Telecom (DoT) also informed that it has received representations requesting that incremental SUC rate of 0.5 per cent post sharing should be applied only to the particular spectrum band which has been allowed to be shared between the two licencees and not on the entire spectrum held by licencees, since sharing is allowed in a particular band.

It is in this background that DoT requested Trai to furnish its recommendations on whether the incremental 0.5 per cent in SUC rate in cases of sharing of spectrum should be applied only on the specific band in which sharing is taking place; or on the overall Weighted Average Rate of SUC, which has been derived from all bands.

The two prominent spectrum sharing arrangements were between Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd and Reliance Communications for the 800 MHz spectrum owned by the latter, and Tata Teleservices sharing its spectrum in 1,800 MHz and 2,100 MHz in around half a dozen circles with Bharti Airtel.

While Reliance Jio acquired some spectrum in the 800-Mhz from Reliance Communications before it shut shop, Bharti Airtel acquired all the spectrum along with the entire consumer mobile business of the Tata group.