COAI Seeks Freeze of License Fee, Freeze of 5G Network Equipment

Mobile operators’ association COAI has urged the government to reduce the license fee to one percent, and demanded a waiver of network equipment tax to roll out 5G.

In its budget list submitted to the finance ministry, the Cellular Operators’ Association of India (COAI) has also pushed for the abolition of the Universal Service Obligation Fund or USOF.

Telecom giant apex telecom has urged the government to moderate GST, reduce license fee to 1% from 3% and scrap excise duty on 5G network equipment.

During the pre-budget discussions held on Monday, COAI also demanded removal of GST from license fees, spectrum usage charges and payment for spectrum acquired through auctions.

Other demands include restoration of accumulated input tax credit for GST (Rs. 32,000 crore) and clarification on availability of input tax credit on critical equipment installed in telecom towers.

COAI counts telecom operators like Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea as its members.

COAI on Tuesday made a strong proposal for OTT (over-the-top) communication services to directly compensate telcos for the data traffic they drive on the networks, as it advocated for a regulatory licensing framework and easy access to such services. COAI Director General SP Kochhar said the organization, as part of the telecom bill, has given its suggestions on how OTT communication services should be defined to ensure there is no ambiguity.

Other aspects such as a specific financial model for OTT communication services to compensate telecom service providers will be worked out by the government going forward where and when the nuances of the light touch regulatory framework are discussed, Kochhar added. OTT communication services include the likes of WhatsApp, Signal, Google Meet, Telegraph and other similar applications.

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