Entry fee for telecom licence needs revisit: Mishra

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New Delhi, Dec 28 (UNI) The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) today said the entry fee for new licences in the telecom sector should be increased as it is not reflective of a true market price In an interview to a business channel (CNBC TV 18) Trai Chairman Nripendra Mishra said it is time to think about revisiting the prices discovered in 2001 auction.

Mr Mishra said the current entry fee is about Rs 1,651 crore and this price was discovered through an auction held in 2001 for the fourth license.

For the fourth cellular operator, there was an auction in 2001 and the price was discovered of Rs 1,651 crore. Subsequently, that price was maintained when licenses were given out as late as in 2006.

''We thought that it is necessary to make an observation that this must be revisited. For example- you want to have a license for West Bengal, the entry fee is Rs one crore. You want to have a license for Karnataka, the fee is Rs 233 crore. Growth is taking place in West Bengal, Orissa and Bihar, where the license is Rs one crore, Rs five crore and Rs six crore,'' said Mr Misra.

He added that the Department of Telecom (DoT) will take a final call on the relevance of 2001 auction prices.

Mr Mishra said there is a belief within sections of the government that the price needs to be revisited.

''The Finance Secretary wrote two letters to the Telecom Secretary, saying that there is a case for revisiting this price and it needs to be increased significantly, as it is not reflective of the current day and age,'' he said.

However, the DoT ruled that out and the Telecom Secretary wrote to the Finance Secretary that it has not been done because the regulator has advised against hiking the entry fee.

Mr Mishra, however, clarified that TRAI had made an observation to the contrary. ''TRAI believes there is possibly a case for revisiting the entry fee and these fees are not in parity with what is happening with the sector.'' Mr Mishra left it to the DoT to discover the entry fee either by way of an auction to have a fixed fee.

Bharti and Idea have already submitted bids in excess of the Rs 1,651 crore.

Telecom Minister A Raja has ruled out increasing the fee on account of legal issues.

On the fee for crossover applicants Mr Mishra suggests that they should be atleast equal to the entry fee for new applicants.

''The subscriber norms suggested by TRAI are implementable and constructive,'' he said.

DoT has indicated that by April, there will be a rollout of number portability, atleast in the four metros.

The Chairman of TRAI said possibly by May-June, a policy framework will be in place and number portability could kick in only by about September.

''It could be a marginal delay, but then it is a huge issue and a lot of issues need to be sorted out of how do operators share networks, what are going to be the tariff-related issues,'' he said.

UNI

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