DoT Issues Norms to Shift to Unified Licence Regime

The Department of Telecom  (DoT) on Tuesday issued guidelines for mobile phone companies  to migrate to the Unified Licensing Regime under which a rebate in the entry fee has been offered on a pro-rata basis.

The rebate will be offered for international, long distance and access service licences for the number of years remaining in the licence tenure and will be limited to a maximum of Rs 15 crore.

DoT had issued guidelines for unified licences earlier this month, but was silent on details accompanying the migration to the new regime. Entry fee already paid will be adjusted for companies that have been issued letters of intent for granting UL, DoT said.

Letters of intent have been issued to Idea Cellular , Sistema  Shyam Teleservices, Telewings Communications (Uninor) and Videocon Telecommunications. However, DoT will not refund the entry fee, in part or full. Telecom companies had paid Rs 1,658 crore to get mobile permits bundled with spectrum.

Telecom companies have been allowed to move to UL at any time before the licence validity expires. However, migration will have to be immediate for operators who include an additional service or add a new service area.

India has 22 service areas or telecom circles, and some companies like Sistema Shyam Teleservices and Uninor have presence only in a few circles. The rules will also apply in case a company adds circles or licences through merger or acquisition.

Telecom companies that have been allotted spectrum will be additionally charged for the airwaves held, when they migrate to UL. DoT is yet to decide on the modalities of the additional charges.