Cabinet to take final call on SUC

As the matter of spectrum usage charge (SUC) continues to remain unresolved with opinion of Trai further complicating the issue, the Department of Telecom is likely to leave it to the Cabinet for a final decision.

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has proposed a revised formula to include market-determined price and technical efficiency of the band for calculating SUC, but DoT officials are of the view that it is not possible to calculate on the basis of Trai formula and the matter will get more complicated.

Also, the suggestion of Trai for a flat rate has also found no takers in DoT given the fact that AG has opined against it.

According to officials, DoT will now take all the formulas to Cabinet, which will take a final call on the matter. The officials in the department are wary about telecom operators approaching court if the matter is not resolved with consensus. A higher SUC will also hamper sentiment for the upcoming auctions.

SUC, one of the many levies that operators pay the government, has been a bone of contention. Telcos have been asking for a uniform charge across bands, given the difficulty in calculating separate charges across bands with multiple operators offering data services on various bands. The SUC varies from 5% to 1% across bands. The government gets Rs 8,000-8,900 crore annually from SUC.

GSM operators body COAI has sought a uniform SUC at 3% of adjusted gross revenue for all bands, and for existing and new spectrum. The industry body argued it would remove arbitrage whereas Reliance Jio Infocomm had argued that the charge of 1% should continue for 2300-MHz band spectrum (BWA spectrum).

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