Does SC's AGR Go Beyond Telcos?
The Department of Telecom's licensing division is currently checking if the Supreme Court order on telecom revenue applies to any user company of spectrum and also to those who own a valid telecom licence after telcos brought it informally to the DoT brass' notice.
According to sources, telcos brought to the notice of DoT that the SC definition or the DoT definition of the Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) applies to any entity that has taken a telecom service licence, such as internet service providers (ISPs), satellite communications providers, cable operators and even companies in the power and railways sector. Both legal experts and telcos said this brings them also under the net of AGR-based dues, so it all may take the government payments if it actually translates into realisation much more than Rs 1.3 lakh crore across the industry and all PSUs.
As the wider ramifications are slowly emerging of DoT's now SC-backed AGR, the ministry officials say practically speaking companies - licensees like PGCIL, RailTel, Internet Service Providers, Prasar Bharti, under broadcasting - satellite communications providers, cable operators will come under the definition and their dues also need to be calculated. But the details are being studied for such companies who are not telecom service providers.
These companies may suddenly be given demand notices running into crores and they may object to DoT's not informing them for so many years about this, DOT officials said.
A senior telco executive said so far DoT has focussed only on telcos but now it will have to see how others would pay. In the case of RailTel and PGCIL who have ISP licence of Grade A and RailTel is a managed telecom service provider, if the dues will be calculated on the overall revenue of the company, it will have to be studied with legal definition.
The government has formed a Committee of Secretaries to work out a financial bailout package that may include lowering of spectrum charges.
The Committee of Secretaries, headed by Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba, has been asked to examine "all aspects" of "financial stress" faced by service providers such as Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea and suggest measures to mitigate them. The panel has held one meeting so far.