The telecom industry is divided over the inter-ministerial body Telecom Commission's approval to companies having ISP licences and holding 4G spectrum to offer phone calls services
by paying a fee of Rs 1,658 crore each.
GSM industry body Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) said it had recommended the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to charge ISP companies amount equivalent to what companies mobile phone service providers paid for licences.
"This is the cost if you want to enter voice telephony business. We support government not bundling spectrum with this payment," COAI Director General Rajan S Mathews said.
The Telecom Commission decision
, if finally approved by Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal, will allow companies like Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance
Jio Infocomm (RJI), Augere and Tikona Digital, if they want, to offer mobile phone service using BWA spectrum that they won in 2010 auction.
The Association of United Telecom Service Providers of India, however, said the charge of Rs 1,658 crore is minuscule compared to the amount that companies paid for 3G spectrum.
"Telecom Commission's reported action will allow BWA licencees to offer Pan India Voice after paying a paltry incremental amount of Rs 83 crores per MHz. Given that the difference between the prices of 3G and BWA on a per MHz prices was Rs 1,033 crores per MHz," Auspi Secretary General Ashok Sud said.
Internet Service Providers Association of India's President Rajesh Chharia criticised the decision and said: "This is not at all a level-playing field. These charges are abnormally high without spectrum."With inputs from PTI