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Hefty bill for WiLL firms

New Delhi, Oct 27: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) today slapped a Rs 479 crore entry fee to be paid by the basic operators offering wireless-in-local-loop mobile (WiLL-M) or limited mobile services.

Trais recommendations are based on the directions from Telecom Dispute Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) that had directed government to levy a fee for providing the WiLL(M) services.

However, the regulator clarified that there will be no additional entry fee if operator does not offer WiLL (M) service.

Trai has suggested additional entry fee for new basic service operators Reliance and Tata for their WiLL(M) service estimated at Rs 69.75 crore in Delhi, Rs 55.81 crore in Tamil Nadu including Chennai, Rs 44.80 crore in Maharashtra including Mumbai, Rs 19.03 crore in Punjab, Rs 3.6 crore in Karnataka and Rs 28.07 crore for West Bengal including Calcutta. No additional entry fee is proposed for other circles.

Reliance Infocomm, operating in 17 circles, is estimated to pay Rs 221.04 crore, Tata Teleservices and Bharti Telenet, each operating in four circles, are estimated pay up Rs 129.13 crore each.

The regulator has recommended that there should be no additional entry fee in C circles and in most of B circles. It has also suggested that there should be no entry fee in circles where basic service operators have already paid a high entry fee that the cellular mobile operators in the fourth cellular licence.

However, the entry fee will be charged for offering limited mobile services in metros like Delhi, Calcutta, Mumbai and Chennai and in some A and B circles.

According to Trai, the total additional entry fee liability against the basic operators offering the limited mobile service is Rs 479 crore after adjusting for high bank guarantee and roll-out obligations for basic service operators.

Trai has recommended an additional spectrum fee chargeable for the spectrum allocated beyond 5 MHz for WiLL (M) service. It has also offered relief to cellular mobile operators with regard to points of interconnection between cellular and basic operators.

The regulator has also highlighted that the spectrum is being used inefficiently by both basic and cellular service providers and is also priced in such a way that it encourages non-efficient deployment by the access providers.

The issue is being dealt in more detail separately. Trai further makes it clear that existing contractual obligations of 4.4/ 6.2 MHz in case of cellular mobile and 5 MHz in case of basic services will be relevant and any further allocation will be subject to scrutiny for efficient spectrum deployment and also subject to availability. The regulator will soon make a recommendation to the government in this regard.

The regulator has also suggested that the 5 per cent access charge levied on cellular operators should be brought to a reasonable level.

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