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TDSAT sends notice to DoT over hike in Internet licence fee

Press Trust of India/New Delhi 10 Jul 12 | 07:34 PM

Telecom tribunal TDSAT has asked the government to file a reply over the plea of Internet service providers opposing imposition of licence fee of 4% of their adjusted gross revenue (AGR).

A TDSAT bench headed by Justice S B Sinha has issued notice to the Ministry of Communications & IT asking it to file reply within two weeks.

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The tribunal has also granted time to service providers; lobby group Internet Service Providers' Association (ISPAI) to file rejoinder and listed the matter to August 8 for next hearing.

In its petition, ISPAI has submitted that the government cannot "unilaterally amend the Licence Fee during the currency of the Licence Agreement".

The government in an order on June 26, 2012 imposed an annual licence fee of 4% of AGR on Internet providers, who were not providing Internet-based telephone services.

Earlier, the service providers were only providing a notional licence fee of Re 1 only. Those who were providing Internet telephony and paying a fee of 6% of AGR, have been asked to pay 7%.

Moreover, from April, 2013, both ISPs providing Internet or Internet with telephony services will have to pay licence fee of 8% of their AGR.
The Internet service providers have requested the tribunal to "quash and set-aside the impugned circular" or to pass "an ad-interim ex-parte order staying the operation of the impugned Circular" immediately.

In the petition, service providers said that they have licence contracts with the Ministry of Communications & IT, having clear provision of licence fee.

"A contract cannot be unilaterally amended by one of the parties without the consent of the other," they said.

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