2G: COAI petitions against one-time levy

The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has become the latest body to complain against the recent suggestion of the inter-ministerial panel to levy a one-time charge on spectrum held by mobile phone operators beyond 4.4 MHz.

While dual-technology operators have sought the one-time levy trigger to be at 6.2 MHz, COAI has said that the concept itself was faulty and, hence, the decision must be scrapped.

According to estimates based on the base price of the upcoming 2G spectrum auctions, the industry will have to pay up R27,000 crore once the recommendations of the EGoM are accepted by the Cabinet. COAI has said the government should not levy a one-time charge on spectrum since it was already levying an escalating spectrum usage charge.

In an 18-page letter written to telecom minister Kapil Sibal, the industry body cited statements from official documents, including telecom licences granted to them, and a recent opinion of AG GE Vahanvati.

According to the letter, there was no concept of additional or contracted spectrum and all the spectrum assigned to the operators was on the basis of the subscriber-linked criteria, where the operators were charged one-time entry fee and an escalating usage charge on an escalating basis as a percentage of AGR.

The letter comes a day after Auspi, wrote to the PM suggesting that the one-time fee should be levied beyond 6.2 MHz.

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