Off late there has been debate over whether the incumbent players such as Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular are indeed paying a justified amount for the spectrum held by them, a charge particularly labeled by dual tech players, Reliance Communications and Tata Teleservices.
TRAI’s latest financial performance indicator report reveals that Bharti Airtel paid Rs 570.17 crore as licence fees and Rs 301.49 crore as spectrum charge for the quarter-ended December 31, 2009. This makes Bharti’s total payments to the government for the quarter at Rs 871.66 crore.
Compare this to Tata Teleservices payments of Rs 133.12 crore and Rs 39.45 crore towards licence fee and spectrum fee respectively. Reliance Communications meanwhile paid licence fee of Rs 186.23 crore and spectrum fee of Rs 43.01 crore. The total of these companies comes to Rs 401.81 crore.
AUSPI however refutes the higher contribution made by incumbents. According to AUSPI the incumbent operators have been in operation for close to 15 years now and thus have higher revenues on their respective GSM networks. It says dual tech players which have entered the GSM fray have been in operation only for about a year. If spectrum fee within one year of launch are compared then new operators are paying far higher spectrum charge.