Telco Reliance Jio has received the backing of telecom authority TRAI on its methodology of charging extra for spectrum bands in which airwaves are shared, instead of levying it on the entire spectrum by the company, as reported by Financial Express.
Jio getting TRAI’s support is being seen as a big win for the company in the dispute with Department of Telecommunications (DoT) over calculation of spectrum usage charge (SUC) in the case of shared spectrum. The development may force Centre to revise its guidelines.
India’s largest telco had also gotten relief from Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) in January this year, when DoT’s demand for charging an additional Rs 1,300 crore from the company towards SUC for the 2016-21 period was stayed. Following the ruling form TDSAT, DoT had sought clarification from TRAI on calculation methodology.
In 2015, the guidelines related to spectrum sharing said companies entering such pacts will have to pay an extra 0.5 per cent over their regular SUC. This is calculated on the adjusted gross revenue of operators. The guidelines says that spectrum sharing can be done between two entities in the same spectrum band.
Jio’s argument on SUC hinged on it sharing spectrum only in the 800 MHz band. The company said the additional charge should be levied on this very band and not on the overall amount. But DoT’s way of calculation meant that the company would need to pay an extra Rs 1,300 crore.
“The Authority is of the view that as per the existing spectrum sharing guidelines, which were based on the recommendations of the Authority, the incremental SUC should apply to the spectrum band which is being shared and not on the overall weighted average SUC, which includes all the spectrum bands held by the telecom service providers,” TRAI has said (as per FT).