The Telecom Commission has put off a decision on measures to provide relief to the stressed industry as it sought more clarifications on some recommendations, including deferred spectrum payment, from the inter-ministerial group, according to a senior official.

The commission, the highest policy-making body in the telecom sector, met here today to consider the proposals put forth by the IMG to tackle the financial stress.

The official, who did not wish to be named, said the Telecom Commission (TC) has sought additional clarifications from the inter-ministerial group (IMG) on two of the recommendations. These pertain to giving telcos more time to pay for the spectrum they bought and switching from PLR to MCLR on interest and penalty payments.

The commission will meet again in two weeks once the IMG reverts with its response on these issues.

The official said the Telecom Commission is in-principle agreeable to other recommendations of the IMG, but it will take a "holistic view" on the entire report once the clarifications sought come in.

After the TC takes a view, the proposals will be placed before the Cabinet for its approval.

The IMG -- tasked with finding a remedy to mitigating the financial difficulties of the telecom sector -- had recommended that the payments for spectrum be taken in 16 installments (16 years) as against the current practice of 10 years.

It also favored a cut in interest rates on penalties by switching from PLR based to MCLR based rate, which could provide relief of about two percentage points in the current situation.

Besides the IMG report, the Telecom Commission considered various other proposals, including the regulator's recommendations on free data, where it has decided to seek "clarifications" from Trai on how the entire scheme will be operationalised.

The commission has also approved a proposal pertaining to provision of mobile services to villages not yet covered by the communications network, which will be implemented by Bharti Airtel.

The work for this USOF project will be carried out at a total outlay of Rs 3,100 crore, covering 4,502 villages across various states except Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya.

The commission has also given its nod to a proposal pertaining implementation of second phase of the BharatNet project, which seeks to provide broadband connectivity to 1.5 lakh villages -- 1 lakh villages have already been covered in the first phase.

The source said it has been decided that in six states -- Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh -- the implementation of the project will be taken up by state-led agencies.

In three states -- Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Odisha -- the implementation will be done by the Power Grid Corporation of India.  – Business Standard 


 

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