Ahead of the resale of 2G spectrum through auction scheduled on 12 November, an empowered group of ministers (EGoM) headed by finance minister P Chidambaram has recommended that a one-time licence fee be charged prospectively from October this year on all telecom companies that hold more than 4.4 MHz of GSM spectrum or more than 2.5 MHz of CDMA spectrum.
This means that India's mobile phone companies will have to shell out a minimum of Rs27,000 crore to the government if the proposal to charge a fee that will match the upcoming auction-determined price is accepted.
Operators willing to retain excess spectrum will have the option of making staggered payments in yearly installments, reports citing officials privy to the deliberations said. Those wishing not to pay the additional fee would be allowed to relinquish the excess spectrum beyond 4.4 MHz.
The nine-member EGoM also decided to refund the licence fee of companies whose telecom licences stand cancelled but which have no criminal charge against them, an official said. The cabinet is expected to take a final decision on the licence fee to be paid by the telecom companies on 16 October.
The group had failed to come to a conclusion on the issue at its earlier meeting on 3 October due to the absence of a law official.
This recommendation is completely different from the view held by attorney general G E Vahanvati, who had earlier suggested that a one-time fee be levied retrospectively from July 2008 on spectrum allotted to telecom companies beyond 6.2 MHz.