EGoM on telecom to meet again next week
A crucial meeting of a ministerial panel headed by Finance Minister P Chidambaram on issues such as levy of one-time spectrum fee on existing telecom operators did not arrive at a final decision on Wednesday, and will meet again next week. Besides levy of an auction-discovered fee for spectrum that incumbent mobile phone operators hold, the Empowered Group of Ministers [EGoM] was to decide on spectrum refarming and third phase of FM radio expansion, among others issues. ‘EGoM has just met. All the issues were discussed threadbare. We will have another meet on [October] 8 when final decision will be taken,’ telecom minister Kapil Sibal told reporters after a two-and-half-hour long meeting. The Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India, which represents firms like Tata Teleservices and Reliance Communications among others, has opposed DoT move to charge all spectrum held by existing telecom players at the rates which new telecom operators will pay in the auction of airwaves due to start in November. Existing telecom operators were allocated spectrum along with pan-India licences at Rs 1,658 crore only, while new telecom operator will have to pay a minimum of Rs 14,000 crore for spectrum to operate across country. Sources said EGoM deliberated on increasing number of spectrum blocks for auction in all circles, except Delhi and Mumbai.