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Govt telecom revenues to be significantly higher than BE next fiscal

The government’s revenue collection from telecom services will be significantly higher than the projection of Rs 52,806.36 crore made in the union budget after adding the collection from the proposed spectrum auction, a top telecom department official said. The government has lowered its revenue estimate from the telecom segment to Rs 52,806 crore for the next financial year, according to the budget document.

“Some people are making advance payments and since spectrum auction is proposed we expect this to go northwards. It will be significantly higher but at this stage we won’t be able to give any estimates because we don’t have recommendations in hand,” Telecom Secretary K Rajaraman told PTI.

The telecom revenue collection is expected to be higher than the budget estimates of Rs 53,986.72 crore for the current financial year at Rs 71,959.24 crore.

Rajaraman said that the DoT has already collected Rs 69,559 crore as of February 3.

The receipt from communication services includes licence fees from telecom operators and receipts on account of spectrum usage charges which are charged at the rate of 8 per cent of their adjusted gross revenue.

“We will not be able to guess 5G spectrum auction estimates till we have Trai’s recommendations in hand. These recommendations will undergo some changes,” Rajaraman said.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) is currently working on firming up recommendations on 5G spectrum price and allocation rules which it is likely to submit in March.

Trai had earlier recommended the base price of 5G spectrum in 3,300-3,600 Mhz band at about Rs 492 crore per Mhz unpaired spectrum on pan-India basis. Telecom operators interested in buying radiowaves for 5G will have to shell out a minimum of Rs 9,840 crore on pan-India basis to buy spectrum in the medium frequency band of 3,300-3,600 Mhz. If telecom operators’ demands are met then the medium band spectrum should cost them only Rs 492 crore at the base price.

Telcos have demanded that the base price of spectrum in higher frequency bands of 24.5 Ghz to 29.5 Ghz should be fixed at 1 per cent of the base price of the mid-frequency band.

Rajaraman said that the government focus is to enhance ease of doing business, reduce cost of doing business and compliance burden on the companies and a second phase of reforms around these are expected to be in place by April-May.

The government in September had already major reforms to provide liquidity in the sector and ease load on debt-ridden firms Vodafone Idea and BSNL.

“Telecom infrastructure is at the foundation of any digital economy and the government is very keen about digital inclusion as a means of financial inclusion and development. For this, equitable access to telecommunications across the country is very important. That is why we are focusing on developing more technologies which will improve affordability, accessibility etc,” Rajaraman said. PTI

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