RIL firm gets voice service rights in 4G

Mail Today Bureau   New Delhi     Last Updated: February 19, 2013  | 00:00 IST

Inter-Ministerial body Telecom Commission (TC) on Monday allowed Broadband Wireless Access (BWA), also known as 4G spectrum , held by telecom holders to provide voice services if they pay an additional $306 million (Rs 1,658 crore).

This will help companies holding Internet services licences with spectrum like Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio Infocomm (RJI), Augere, Tikona Digital to provide phone call services by paying additional fee of Rs 1,658 crore each. "Firms which own the BWA airwaves can provide voice services along with high-speed Internet if they pay a fee of Rs 1,658 crore telecom secretary," ), TC chairman and telecom secretary R. Chandrashekhar said on Monday.

The Commission broadly endorsed the recommendation of Department of Telecommunications (DoT) committee with regard to Unified Licensing regime. "The ISP (Internet Service Provider) licence holders who hold BWA spectrum and wish to provide using that spectrum, then an additional fee of Rs 1,658 crore will be levied for migration to Unified Licences (UL)," Chandrashekhar added.

The framework for new licences will be ready by end of this financial year, he added. In 2010, six private players- RJI, formerly Infotel Broadband, Bharti Airtel, Aircel, Qualcomm, Tikona Digital and Augere had won BWA spectrum.

Bharti Airtel and Aircel have unified access services licence under which they are allowed to provide phone call services both on fixed as well as landline. Other companies were given ISP licence that has restrictions on providing phone call services across networks. The additional amount of Rs 1,658 crore was charged from telecom players till 2008 for providing mobile telephony.

The licence issued to mobile telephony operators for Rs 1,658 crore had 4.4 MHz spectrum bundled with it but government has announced providing no spectrum with UL. The current value of the quantum of spectrum allocated under old licences has increased around seven times.

"UL does not include any spectrum. Grant of UL including migration to UL does not include any spectrum," Chandrashekhar said. The TC deferred decision on bringing telecom tower companies, called IP-1, under licences.

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