New Delhi, Oct. 3: The empowered group of ministers (EGoM) for telecom, headed by finance minister P. Chidambaram, today deferred a decision to levy a one-time fee on existing operators for holding 2G spectrum.
Industry players have severely opposed such a move. While CDMA lobby group Auspi has written to telecom minister Kapil Sibal to scrap the proposal, COAI — the industry body representing leading GSM operators — said the additional fees would hurt its members. Operators also claim the Centre’s proposal is in violation of licence conditions, which granted them spectrum for 20 years.
Sources said the move to charge a one-time fee might be postponed till the completion of spectrum auction, which starts in November, to ensure adequate participation from the existing operators.
The country’s top telecom firms — Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular — hold around 10MHz spectrum in many key circles and will have to make substantial payouts if the fee is imposed.
“All the issues were discussed threadbare. We will have another meeting on October 8, when final decisions will be taken,” Sibal said today.
The EGoM is understood to have approved the participation of foreign telecom entities in the auction. However, to start operations in India, the players will have to form a venture with an Indian partner.
Meanwhile, the Delhi high court today granted a stay on the government order asking operators to stop 3G services outside their licensed areas through roaming pacts, after Bharti Airtel challenged the decision.