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TDSAT Rules In Favour Of ISPs In License Fee Dispute

The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has ruled (.pdf) in favour of the Internet Service Providers Association of India (ISPAI), in their case against the Department of telecom's decision to levy a uniform annual license fee for providing pure-play Internet services. The tribunal, in its verdict said that the clause in the DoT order which said that the license fee would include all types of revenue from Internet services and that revenues from Internet services will also be included provisionally in the definition of applicable AGR provisionally for ISP-IT category till the government takes a final decision, cannot be sustained. The tribunal also said that the Central government should have considered whether UAS service licensess and ISP licensees had a level playing field, and it should have taken appropriate measures in that behalf but the licensees could not have been asked provisionally to pay on the basis of the AGR, when the final decision was to be taken at a later stage. Recommendations can't be provisional: It said that the recommendations should not have been provisional and the DoT should have issued the directive,  subject to the recommendations made by the TRAI. It's noteworthy that in 2007 the DoT had allowed all ISPs to offer internet telephony services and a license fee of 6% of AGR was imposed on ISPs except on the revenue earned from provisioning of pure Internet access services. DoT Order: In its order dated 29th June 2012, the DoT  had decided to levy a 4% license fee on ISPs’ gross annual revenues, starting 1st July 2012, which might…

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