USO payments should be suspended till existing funds exhausted: COAI

Reduction of license fee to 1 %, lower customs duties, and a clearer definition of Gross revenue among key industry demands submitted in budget recommendations

Subhayan Chakraborty New Delhi

Reduction of license fees paid by telcos from current 3 percent to 1 percent at earliest is one of key budget demand by COAI

In its strongest representation, the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has called for suspension of universal service obligation payments by telecom firms (telcos) until existing funds are exhausted. 

The COAI said on Wednesday that it has sought a reformative tax regime for the sector. This is as part of its Budget recommendations to the finance ministry. The three private telecom service providers (TSPs) — Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, and Vodafone Idea — are members of the COAI.

The government imposes universal access levy on TSPs to the tune of 5 per cent of their annual adjusted gross revenues (AGRs).

This goes into the telecom department’s Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF), which had an unused surplus of Rs 64,774 crore as of October 30, 2022, official data shows. 

 The USOF is used to boost mobile and broadband connectivity in rural and remote areas, especially those a

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First Published: Jan 18 2023 | 5:58 PM IST

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