TDSAT Exempts RCom Spectrum From Levies, Asks Telecom Department To Return Rs 2,000 Crore
The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal quashed a government decision to charge for additional spectrum allocated to Reliance Communications Ltd. and asked the telecom department to return Rs 2,000 crore to the company, the Anil Ambani-led entity said.
“The TDSAT held that any telecom operator’s spectrum holdings of up to 5 megahertz in the CDMA band and up to 6.2 MHz in the GSM band were exempt from any one-time spectrum charge levies. The TDSAT hence set aside the levy of one-time spectrum charge on RCom’s said spectrum,” it said in a statement.
The Union cabinet in 2012 had decided that operators should pay for holding spectrum above 6.2 MHz retrospectively, from July 2008 to Jan. 1, 2013. For spectrum above 4.4 MHz, they would have to pay for the remaining period of their licences starting Jan. 1, 2013.
Similarly, the government had decided to charge for CDMA spectrum or radiowaves in 800 MHz band beyond 2.5 MHz.
“The TDSAT also directed the Department of Telecommunications to return RCom’s bank guarantee of Rs 2,000 crore, as per its earlier order passed on July 3, 2018,” RCom said.
The government in 2012 had raised demand for about Rs 24,000 crore for GSM spectrum from Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular, BSNL, MTNL, Aircel and RCom but the order was challenged by telecom operators.
RCom, Tata Teleservices, Sistema Shyam, BSNL and MTNL at that time held spectrum beyond 2.5 MHz in a few telecom service areas. BSNL and MTNL later surrendered CDMA spectrum but SSTL and RCom liberalised it under protest to complete their merger.
RCom had liberalised spectrum for entering in trading and sharing agreements. Vodafone, too, had to pay one-time spectrum charge of around Rs 3,900 crore for completing merger with Idea Cellular. The DoT had also asked Idea Cellular to furnish a combined bank guarantee of Rs 3,342 crore before taking merger on record.