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Telcos push TRAI to lower SUC levy on shared spectrum

Carriers however urged the authorities should look at the necessity of the SUC charge itself, given that airwaves are bought in auctions, by paying market prices. The telcos also urged that inter-band sharing and microwave backhaul sharing must also be allowed to gain spectral efficiency for coverage, capacity, quality and speed for users.

When you have gone to the auctioning regime, you have recovered a reasonable amount of revenue which the government intended to realize on the behest of the country. Thereafter, having a usage charge in principle is something really questionable.

But for now, Tiwathia said that SUC should only be applied on the shared bands.

Any incremental revenue arising from spectrum sharing will attract licence fee and SUC anyway So, if operators are already paying SUC for their respective spectrum holdings, an additional charge becomes a financial disincentive for them, he added.

Telcos currently pay between 3-5% of their adjusted gross revenue (AGR) as SUC to the DoT, which they want to be lowered and eventually scrapped. Under current laws on sharing airwaves with another carrier, both operators must pay an additional 0.5% of AGR for that whole band as SUC and not just the portion of the spectrum which is shared.

TRAI, having received a back reference from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), had earlier in April floated a consultation on required changes in the calculation and application of SUC paid by carriers while sharing spectrum.

Carrier aggregation technologies are now prevalent across the world. Back in 2015, each band had a specific technology but today for example, LTE 4G is present in all bands. So, I think time has come for TRAI to consider this technology evolution and allow for inter-band sharing, Rahul, Vatts, chief regulatory officer at Bharti Airtel, said.

As data usage has exploded, and while fibre is the most important, for reaching far-flung areas backhaul plays a major part. The growth of data versus the availability of backhaul technology had not changed proportionately.

According to TRAI’s, spectrum sharing guidelines 2015, sharing is permitted between two telecom service providers utilizing the spectrum in the same band. For instance, if company A does not have 800 Mhz band, it cannot share the same from company B which has it. Telcos urged this rule must be done away with to enable maximum utilization of bandwidth and increased network efficiency.

-Satii TV

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