COAI Mis­lead­ing Govt, Jio Tells to Tele­com Secy

The Economic Times - - Companies: Pursuit Of Profit - Our Bureau

Kolkata: Re­liance Jio In­fo­comm and the Cel­lu­lar Op­er­a­tors As­so­ci­a­tion of In­dia (COAI) are at log­ger­heads over the GSM in­dus­try body’s re­cent call for a uni­form an­nual levy for us­ing air­waves.

In a let­ter to tele­com sec­re­tary JS Deepak, Jio has ac­cused the COAI of “try­ing to mis­lead the govern­ment,” and warned that “the na­tional ex­che­quer would suf­fer a whop­ping loss of over .₹ 1,10,00 crore,” if the GSM lobby body’s pro­posal is ac­cepted.

“Re­liance Jio In­fo­comm does not sub­scribe to COAI’s views, which are im­prac­ti­cal and bi­ased for the ben­e­fit of in­cum­bent op­er­a­tors,” the Mukesh Am­bani-led com­pany wrote in a strongly-worded let­ter seen by ET.

In a string of let­ters to the tele­com depart­ment (DoT), COAI had re­cently called for a uni­form an­nual levy of 3% of yearly rev­enue for us­ing air­waves. The lobby body has also ad­vo­cated that such spec­trum us­age charge (SUC) – the an­nual fee that tel­cos pay the govern­ment for us­ing the nat­u­ral re­source – be pro­gres­sively low­ered to a flat 1%.

How­ever, Jio feels “any ex post facto change in the SUC regime for al­ready al­lo­cated/auc­tioned spec­trum should not at all be con­sid­ered by DoT, as it would re­sult in wind­fall gains to ex­ist­ing in­cum­bent op­er­a­tors and cause huge losses to the na­tional ex­che­quer, and also re­sult in pol­icy uncer­tainty” be­fore the next auc­tion.

“The ex­che­quer will suf­fer a loss of over .₹ 1,10,000 crore over 20 years by ac­cept­ing COAI’s pro­posal, as per es­ti­mates based on the Tele­com Reg­u­la­tory Author­ity of In­dia’s data on SUC pay­outs,” said Jio , in its let­ter to Deepak.

The COAI rep­re­sents In­dia’s top tele­com firms such as Bharti Air­tel, Voda­fone In­dia and Idea Cel­lu­lar among oth­ers. Re­liance Jio is also a COAI mem­ber, but the GSM in­dus­try body in its re­cent let­ters on the uni­form SUC call has con­sis­tently main­tained that Jio held a di­ver­gent view on the mat­ter.

Top mo­bile car­ri­ers have his­tor­i­cally held dif­fer­ent views on SUC. While the tel­cos need to pay the mul­ti­ple rates as SUC, Jio, be­ing the holder of broad­band wire­less (BWA) spec­trum in the 2300 Mhz band, needs to pay a flat 1%. In­cum­bent GSM tel­cos have long ar­gued for Jio to be brought at par with them, or their SUC to be brought to Jio’s lev­els even­tu­ally, cit­ing the need for a level-play­ing field. But Jio has op­posed this view, say­ing it will go against ex­tant rules.

In its re­cent let­ters to the DoT sec­re­tary, the COAI had said a uni­form SUC would sim­plify cal­cu­la­tions and re­move all ar­bi­trages and am­bi­gu­i­ties.

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