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Internet Service Firms Make Distress Call To PM

The Internet Service Providers Association of India (ISPAI) have knocked on the doors of Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting his immediate intervention for resolving the crisis gripping the Indian telecom sector.

ISPAI President Rajesh Chharia on Wednesday wrote to the PM seeking his intervention on the vexatious adjusted gross revenue (AGR) issue, to avoid the unprecedented crisis as the licences, factual matrix, etc are different and would require independent examination.

The letter seen by BusinessLine says that the AGR issue would impact other sectors such as oil and gas, power, Railways, data Centre business, cable industry and even the Delhi Metro. The letter was also sent to Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

“Several companies are having multifarious activities, of which telecom may be one, and this step by the government will not only seriously impact mobile operators, but the whole Telecom sector including multi-sector players,” the letter read.

It said that media reports have suggested that the Department of Telecom (DoT) is examining wider implications and application of the Supreme Court on the Licensees of services other than Access Services and particularly those who have not been able to participate in the litigation against DoT. “The implementation of the Supreme Court order on the Licensees who were not even parties in the dispute before TDSAT and Supreme Court would not be desirable apart from being unsustainable from a legal perspective,” he wrote.

“…even otherwise licence for different services need to be interpreted on the basis of the definition of licence and not on the basis of migration package availed by some access providers during the year 1999,” the letter pointed out.

Hence, the other licenses would not be covered by the ratio of the SC judgment, the letter said.

The letter also said that without prejudice, the implementation of the Supreme Court judgment on any service providers will lead to huge financial crisis in many companies especially the small and medium Internet Service Providers spread across rural areas.

Therefore, the government needs to find a way out of the present crisis. The National Digital Communication Policy 2018, approved by the government in September last year, also discusses the need to review charges, levies and taxes on the Telecom services License, he said.―The Hindu Business Line

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