Telecom operators have demanded exemption from licence fee, spectrum charges and goods and services tax on the services provided by them to private captive networks to ensure a level playing field with technology companies. The operators flagged their concerns regarding private networks during the pre-bid conference held by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) on June 20, 2022.

The telcos sought clarity on issues related to spectrum usage charges and rollout obligations, among others, for the upcoming spectrum auction. The telcos have also stressed that since a decision has already been taken to enable private networks to get spectrum directly from the government, it must be ensured that such networks remain truly private and not communicate with public networks.

The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), in a letter to DoT, had expressed disappointment at the government’s decision on captive private networks. The industry body had argued that the rules applicable for captive non-public network (CNPN) should be made applicable for captive private network or private network provided by licenced telecom service providers. Otherwise, no investor would invest in a taxed portfolio when the same investment could be made without any tax burden through the CNPN route.

The telcos again highlighted all concerns mentioned in the letter during the pre-bid conference. The DoT has assured the telcos to look into the issues raised by them.