Court grants RCOM reprieve in spectrum usage case

15 Jan 2016

The Kolkata High Court has given Reliance Communications (RCOM) permission to proceed with the liberalisation of its 850MHz airwaves in 16 circles without submitting a bank guarantee for the one-time spectrum charge, the Economic Times reports. Under the rules governing the sharing or trading of airwaves in India, operators are first required to pay the government the market-determined price for any spectrum which they did not purchase via auction, a process known as ‘liberalising’ the spectrum. Earlier this week the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) set a price of INR69.53 billion (USD1.04 billion) for RCOM to liberalise its airwaves, including a market price of INR53.84 billion for the frequencies and a spectrum usage charge of INR15.69 billion. RCOM has questioned the legality of charging the latter, however, and the matter is pending in various courts. In the meantime, the Kolkata High Court has given RCOM the green light to forge ahead with the liberalisation process whilst the question of spectrum usage fee is resolved. The decision will enable RCOM to go ahead with a rumoured spectrum sale and sharing deal with Reliance Jio Infocomm (RJIL), expected to be announced next week.