The Department of Telecom may reconsider its decision to bar spectrum sharing for 3G services following changes that have come into effect under the new licensing regime.
In the present scenario, spectrum is liberalized in which any technology can be deployed as per new rules. In light of recent policy decisions, "this condition (barring of 3G spectrum sharing) needs reconsideration/revisit" by the Telecom Commission, an official source said.
On February 15, 2012, the DoT had decided that "spectrum sharing will not be permitted among licensees having 3G spectrum."
The government has allowed sharing among telecom companies holding liberalized airwaves for only spectrum purchased through auction in November 2012 and beyond. The auction condition said that telecom operators can use any technology for providing telecom services in the liberalized spectrum.
Telecom tribunal TDSAT also passed a judgement in April that allowed Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular to use each others' 3G spectrum for services.
Telecom operators that were allocated spectrum at 2001 price of Rs. 1,658 crores and after 2001 through administrative process were given option to liberalize their spectrum by paying a one-time spectrum fee equivalent to market rate determined through auction.
DoT sources said that telecom operators holding non-liberalized spectrum may be allowed by incorporating a condition of depositing bank guarantee equivalent to the amount they are required to pay for liberalizing spectrum. The matter of DoT levying the one-time spectrum fee is sub-judice.
As per initial demand raised by the DoT, state-owned BSNL has to pay around Rs. 6,912 crores, Bharti Airtel - Rs. 5,201 crores, Vodafone- Rs. 3,599 crores, MTNL - Rs. 3,205 crores, Idea Cellular - Rs. 2,113 crores, Aircel- Rs. 1,365 crores, Loop Mobile - Rs. 606 crores, and Reliance Communications - Rs. 173 crores.