Department of Telecom has amended the Unified Licence (pdf) removing the clause that made it mandatory for telcos to migrate to this license if any one of its existing licenses expired. Now telcos will have to migrate only the relevant license(s) to unified during renewal. Unified licenses allow telcos to offer any form of communication (telephone, Internet, broadband and others) through a single license and also delinks spectrum from future licenses. It was introduced as part of the new telecom policy that was launched in June 2012 and is valid for 20 years from the effective date of the license.
According to PTI, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) had written to DoT highlighting the compulsory migration clause that unified licence guideline had. “We hope that the way department has taken industry advise for this amendment very positively. Similarly, they will also consider our demand of not imposing any license fee on pure internet and broadband as this will effect directly to price rise of broadband,” Internet Service Providers Association of India President Rajesh Chharia told the agency.
For shifting to unified license these telcos would have had to pay a one-time non-refundable fee of Rs 15 crore. Besides, operators are also required to provide performance bank guarantee of Rs 220 crore and financial bank guarantee of Rs 44 crore. Internet service providers are required to pay Rs. 30 lakh for a national level licence, Rs 2 crore as PBG and Rs 10 lakh as FBG.
MTS India was the first telco to receive unified licenses in India, for the eight circles it had won in the March 2013 auctions. Idea Cellular, RIL and Uninor has also received unified license. Under the initial version of unified licence, Airtel and Vodafone were the first set of companies which needed to move all their existing permits to new regime by the last quarter of 2014. Airtel’s two licences – Delhi and Kolkata – and Vodafone’s three licences – Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai – are due to expire in last quarter of 2014.