Don't levy spectrum usage charges as percentage of AGR: TRAI

NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: The minimum presumptive Adjusted Gross Revenue should not be made applicable to ISP licensees, and the spectrum usage charges should not be levied as percentage of AGR and existing formula-based mechanism of charging SUC should continue as also the existing system of payment of SUC charges on an annual basis by ISP licensees.

Following a request from the DoT, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had issued a consultation paper on "Spectrum Usage Charges (SUC) and Presumptive-Adjusted Gross Revenue for Internet Service Providers and Commercial Very Small Aperture Terminal Service Providers" on 19 August 2016.

Apart from written comments and counter comments, an Open House Discussion was held on 19 January 2017 with the stakeholders. TRAI's recommendations were based on the analysis of the comments received from the stakeholders and its own analysis.

The interest for delayed payment of SUC by ISP licensees, TRAI recommends, should be two per cent above the SBI PLR rate existing on the beginning of the relevant financial year, and there should be no requirement of FBG for ISP licensee in respect of formula-based SUC payable.

The minimum presumptive AGR should not be made applicable to commercial VSAT license and the SUC should not be more than one per cent of AGR irrespective of the data rate.

The Department of Telecom should put in place a comprehensive, integrated on-line system that acts as a single window clearance for the allocation/ clearances/issuance for approval/ clearance / issue of No Objection Certificates and other permissions to the licensees of spectrum,

In its Recommendations on "Spectrum Usage Charges and Presumptive Adjusted Gross Revenue for Internet Service Providers and Commercial Very Small Aperture Terminal Service Providers", TRAI has said DoT should make arrangement to accept online payment of financial levies / dues such as Licence Fee, Spectrum Usage Charges and other fees that are paid by the licensees for obtaining licence/ approval/ clearance / issue of No Objection Certificates from DoT.

The regulator has said that the existing system of spectrum assignment on location/link-by-link basis on administrative basis to ISP licensees in the specified bands (viz 2.7 GHz, 3.3 GHz, 5.7 GHz and 10.5 GHz) should continue.

DoT may take up with the Department of Space to evolve a system where the VSAT licensees are not made to run from pillar to post to get their services activated.

The clock should start from the day the bandwidth is allotted by DoS and DoT should allot frequency within three months of allotment of spectrum by DoS. The two departments may also explore the possibility of implementing an on-line application for automating the whole process to bring in transparency.

DoT had sought TRAI's recommendations in terms of clause 11(1) of TRAI Act 1997 (as amended), on :

(A) ISP  license

(i)    Rates for  SUC;

(ii)   Percentage of AGR including minimum AGR;

(iii)  Allied issues like schedule of payment, charging of interest, penalty and Financial Bank Guarantee (FBG)

(B) Commercial VSAT license

(i)  Floor level (minimum) AGR, based       on the amount of spectrum held by commercial VSAT operators.

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