The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has notified new guidelines stating that the government has permitted the surrender of spectrum acquired by telecom operators in the upcoming 5G auction after a period of ten years from the date of acquisition of spectrum.

While no refund of payments made towards the acquisition of spectrum would be generated, the government has notified that there would be no requirement to pay future instalments on the surrendered spectrum after the date of surrender.

Telecom companies surrendering partial or complete spectrum in licensed spectrum access (LSA)-band combination will be barred to participate in the auction of spectrum in that LSA-band combination for a period of two years from the date of surrender of spectrum. However, a lock-in period of two years will be applicable for spectrum acquired in a particular LSA-band combination, before surrendering the qualifying spectrum in that combination.

A nominal processing fee of Rs. 1,000 per spectrum band per LSA will be charged for surrender by the government.

Telecom operators are required to submit an online application to surrender spectrum, a year prior to the proposed date of surrender with details of the banks, LSAs, frequency, blocks, mode and date of acquisition. Clearance of dues relating to spectrum acquisition till the proposed date of surrender is also required. Upon clearance, the DoT will grant the final approval of surrender within 15 days.

Spectrum acquired through previous auctions and traded after the issuance of the new guidelines will not be eligible for surrender.