Airtel, Vodafone asked to pay Rs. 3,800 crore as one-time fee in January

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Department of Telecommunications in its demand notice has asked telecom majors Airtel and Vodafone to pay around Rs. 3,800 crore as one-time spectrum fee during this month.

According to sources, DoT has given Airtel the option of paying Rs. 1,758.07 crore this month as first instalment from the total amount of Rs. 5,201.24 crore levied on the company as one-time spectrum charge for additional and excess spectrum it holds.

Similarly, DoT has given Vodafone the opting of paying Rs. 2,093.61 crore as first instalment, out of total of about Rs. 3,599 in January. When contacted, both Airtel and Vodafone did not immediately offer any comments on the matter. DoT on Wednesday issued demand notice to eight companies asking them to pay one-time spectrum charges as decided by government.

This also included State-owned BSNL which has been asked to pay total amount of about Rs. 6,912 crore, followed MTNL (Rs. 3,205 crore). Idea Cellular was asked pay Rs. 2,113 crore (including Rs. 231.5 crore of Spice), Aircel Rs. 1,365 crore (including Rs. 14 crore of Dishnet), Loop Mobile Rs. 606 crore and Reliance Communications Rs. 173 crore. The schedule of payment to be made by these firms could not be ascertained.

The government is likely to get Rs. 4,251.83 crore from retrospective charges, and Rs. 18,925.82 from prospective charges for excess radiowaves held by mobile operators. In all, around Rs. 23,177 crore is expected from levy of one-time spectrum fee, sources added. Initially, telecom firms were given 4.4 MHz spectrum along with licence for Rs. 1,658 crore for pan-India operations and later they were entitled to get another 1.8 MHz on fulfilment of certain subscriber-base criteria.

In November, the government decided that the operators should pay for holding spectrum above 6.2 MHz retrospectively, from July 2008 to January 1, 2013. After that, for spectrum above 4.4 MHz, they would have to pay for the remaining period of their licences based on auction held last November.

Sources said the Department of Telecom (DoT) has tentatively fixed provisional rate for spectrum in 1800 Mhz band for Delhi, Mumbai, Rajasthan and Karnataka circles where it did not receive any bids, as also for the more efficient 900 MHz band.

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