The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has decided to allot E-band airwaves to telecom service providers (TSPs) with access service authorisation/licence and having access spectrum in the international mobile telecommunications (IMT) bands.

As per the guidelines issued by the DoT, TSPs would be allotted a maximum of two carriers of 250 MHz each bandwidth in E-band GHz for their backhaul purpose in the licensed service areas (LSAs) where they are holding access spectrum in IMT bands.

Further, for each E-band carrier of 250 MHz paired bandwidth, spectrum charges will be charged at 0.15 per cent of the adjusted gross revenue (AGR) of the TSPs in the interim period. This will be adjusted or recalculated retrospectively from the date of provisional assignment, based upon the pricing decided. No interest will be paid or charged on the excess or shortfall amount while making such adjustments or recalculations.

The guidelines further note that spectrum charges shall be payable in four quarterly instalments during each financial year. Quarterly instalments of spectrum charges for the first three quarters of a financial year shall be paid within 15 days of the completion of the relevant quarter. However, for the last quarter of the financial year, the licensee shall pay the spectrum charges by March 25 on the basis of expected revenue for the quarter, subject to a minimum payment equal to the revenue share paid for the previous quarter.

Moreover, any delays in payment of spectrum charges or other dues payable under the licence beyond the stipulated period will attract interest at 2 per cent above the one-year marginal cost of lending rate of the State Bank of India at the beginning of the financial year in respect of the spectrum charges pertaining to the said fiscal. Interest will be compounded annually.

Further, the guidelines state that all E-band carriers assigned, as an interim measure, will be purely on a temporary and provisional basis and all such assignees will have to participate in the auction and/or any other assignment methodology, as decided by the government. The E- band carriers will stand reverted back to the government after a period of three months from the date of finalisation of results of aforesaid activity in case such assignees fail to get back the carriers or spectrum provisionally assigned as an interim measure.

Additionally, the DoT has also decided to provisionally double the number of traditional microwave backhaul carriers in the existing frequency bands. As per a separate notification released by the DoT, it will increase the limit of the maximum number of microwave access carriers that can be assigned to a TSP with access service authorisation/licence on a provisional basis from the existing four carriers in Metro, Cat A LSA and three carriers in Cat B and Cat C LSA to eight carriers in Metro, Cat A LSA and six carriers in Cat B and Cat C LSA, effective immediately.