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DoT raises cap on spectrum, installments for payments

In a bid to provide relief to the telecom sector which is reeling under deep financial stress, the Department of Telecom (DoT) has revised licence norms of service providers to raise number of instalments for spectrum payments and radiowaves frequency holding limit. Under the amended norms, the licensee may opt one time for higher number of instalments including in the current financial year 2017-18 (maximum 16 instalments) for deferred payment liabilities as per Notice Inviting Application (NIA) for auctions conducted for award of spectrum in the years 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

There will be no change in value and interest rate that telecom companies have to pay for the spectrum. But, the total amount that telecom operators will pay for the spectrum will be higher by Rs 74,446.01 crore till 2034-35 if they go for more number of instalments. It will be optional for telecom operators to choose between current number of instalments and increased number of instalments. Earlier to that amendment, a part of spectrum auction amount used to be taken as upfront payment by DoT and the balance, after a two-year moratorium, was paid out every year -- 10 instalments in all.

The DoT has also revised spectrum holding limit of telecom operators, which will provide exit route for loss making mobile service providers. A telecom operator was earlier allowed to hold maximum of 25 per cent of all spectrum allocated in a service area for mobile telephony. Now the current limit has been revised to 35 per cent.

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