Uniform licence fee for telecom operators soon

New Delhi, August 31: The government is mulling a uniform licence fee for various services offered by telecom operators, a top official said here on Monday.

“The DoT (Department of Telecommunications) is considering implementing a uniform licence fee,” said Telecom Secretary Siddhartha Behura at a conference organised by the Internet Service Providers Association of India.

Telecom operators currently pay between 6 percent and 10 percent of their adjusted gross revenue (AGR) to the government as licence fees for the right to offer telephony and related services.

This move, when implemented, will cover not just mobile and fixed-line phone operators but also those with licences for national and international long-distance phone services and Internet access services.

In its recommendations for the budget for fiscal 2010, the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), the apex body of GSM operators, had called for a uniform licence fee of 1 percent of AGR, excluding the 5 percent Universal Service Obligation (USO) fund charge.

USO fund is the corpus set up by the government, wherein every telecom operator has to shell out about 5 percent of their AGR (including licence fee) to facilitate rollout of telecom sevices in rural areas.