The Department of Telecom may reconsider its decision to bar spectrum sharing for 3G services following changes that have come into effect under the new licensing regime.
In the present scenario, spectrum is liberalised in which any technology can be deployed as per new rules. In light of recent policy decisions, “this condition (barring of 3G spectrum sharing) needs reconsideration/revisit” by the Telecom Commission, an official source told PTI.
On February 15, 2012, the DoT had decided that “spectrum sharing will not be permitted among licensees having 3G spectrum.”
Government has allowed sharing among telecom companies holding liberalised airwaves for only spectrum purchased through auction in November 2012 and beyond.
The auction condition said that telecom operators can use any technology for providing telecom services in the liberalised spectrum.
Telecom tribunal TDSAT also passed a judgement in April that allowed Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular to use each others’ 3G spectrum for services.
Telecom operators that were allocated spectrum at 2001 price of Rs 1,658 crore and after 2001 through administrative process were given option to liberalise their spectrum by paying a one-time spectrum
fee equivalent to market rate determined through auction.
DoT sources said that telecom operators holding non-liberalised spectrum may be allowed by incorporating a condition of depositing bank guarantee equivalent to the amount they are required to pay for liberalising spectrum.
The matter of DoT levying the one-time spectrum fee is sub-judice. As per initial demand raised by the DoT, state-owned BSNL has to pay around Rs 6,912 crore, Bharti Airtel- Rs 5,201 crore, Vodafone- Rs 3,599 crore, MTNL- Rs 3,205 crore, Idea Cellular – Rs 2,113 crore, Aircel- Rs 1,365 crore, Loop Mobile – Rs 606 crore and Reliance Communications- Rs 173 crore.