Unified License (Migration Guidelines)

The National Telecom Policy, 2012 recognizes that the evolution from analog to digital technology has facilitated the conversion of voice, data and video to the digital form. Increasingly, these are now being rendered through single networks bringing about a convergence in networks, services and also devices. Hence, it is now imperative to move towards convergence between various services, networks, platforms, technologies and overcome the existing segregation of licensing, registration and regulatory mechanisms in these areas to enhance affordability, increase access, delivery of multiple services and reduce cost.

Further, it envisages to provide secure, reliable, affordable and high quality converged telecommunication services anytime, anywhere for an accelerated inclusive socio-economic development. One of the objectives of the National Telecom Policy-2012 is “Strive to create One Nation – One License” across services and service areas.

2. Basic Features:

After considering the recommendations of TRAI for Unified Licenses, the Government has decided to grant Unified License (UL). The basic features of UL are as follows:

(i) The allocation of spectrum is delinked from the licenses and has to be obtained separately as per prescribed procedure. At present, spectrum in 800/900/1800/2100/2300/2500 MHz band is allocated through bidding process. For all other services and usages like Public Mobile Radio Trunking Service (PMRTS), the allocation of spectrum and charges thereof shall be as prescribed by Wireless and Planning and Co-ordination wing of Department of Telecommunications from time to time.

(ii) Applicant can apply for Unified License along with authorisation for any one or more services listed below:

a. Unified License (All Services)
b. Access Service (Service Area-wise)as per details at Annexure- IV
c. Internet Service (Category-A with All India jurisdiction)
d. Internet Service ( Category-B with jurisdiction in a Service Area) as per details at Annexure- IV
e. Internet Service ( Category-C with jurisdiction in a Secondary Switching Area) as per details at Annexure- III
f. National Long Distance (NLD) Service
g. International Long Distance (ILD) Service
h. Global Mobile Personal Communication by Satellite (GMPCS) Service
i. Public Mobile Radio Trunking Service (PMRTS)Service
j. Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) Closed User Group (CUG) Service
k. INSAT MSS-Reporting (MSS-R) Service.
l. Resale of International Private Leased Circuit (IPLC) Service

Authorisation for Unified License (All Services) would however cover all services listed at para 2(ii) (b) in all service areas, 2 (ii) (c), 2(ii) (f) to 2(ii) (l) above.

3. Broad Guidelines:

The broad guidelines for grant of Unified License are as follows:

1. General

(i) The applicant must be an Indian company, registered under the Indian Companies Act’1956.

(ii) The applicant company shall submit the application in duplicate in the prescribed Application form enclosed at Annexure-II.

(iii) Unified License and Authorisation under UL shall be issued on non-exclusive basis i.e. without any restriction on the number of entrants for provision of any service in a Service Area.

(iv) One Company can have only one Unified License. The applicant company can apply for authorisation for more than one service and service area subject to fulfillment of all the conditions of entry simultaneously or separately at different time. The tenure of such authorisation will run concurrently with the Unified License.

(v) At the time of applying for Unified License, the applicant has to apply for authorisation of at least one service listed in para 2(ii) above.

(vi) In case authorisation is required for more than 4 SSAs in a Telecom Circle for ISP ’C’ category, Category “B’ ISP authorisation for the respective telecom circle is to be applied for.

(vii) The applicant company shall pay nonrefundable processing fee as prescribed in Annexure-I along with the application (Two copies) in the form of Demand Draft/Pay Order from a Schedule Bank payable at New Delhi issued in the name of Pay & Accounts Officer (Headquarter) DOT.

(viii) The total composite foreign holding shall be governed by Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) policy of the Government of India as announced by Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion from time to time.

(ix) The applicant company shall have a minimum paid up equity capital and networth of the amount indicated in Annexure-I for the respective Service(s) and Service Area(s) on the date of the application and a certificate to this effect shall be provided by the registered Company Secretary alongwith application. Any applicant seeking additional authorisation, subsequent to grant of UL, has to meet the minimum cumulative networth required on the date of application for seeking such additional authorisation. The requirement under this license for the combined minimum Networth and paid-up equity shall be limited to a maximum of Rs. 25 Crore (Rupees Twenty five crore only), each. The paid-up equity capital shall be maintained during the currency of the License.

(x) The networth shall mean the sum total, in Indian Rupees, of paid up equity capital and free reserves & surplus net of accumulated losses. The networth of promoters/equity share holders shall not be counted for determining the networth of the company. While counting the Net-worth, the foreign currency shall be converted into Indian Rupees at the prevalent rate indicated by the Reserve Bank of India as on the date of Application received.

(xi) Grant of UL to the applicant shall be on the basis of the claims, representations and submissions made by the applicant as duly certified by the Company Secretary and authorized Director of the Company. The applicant is therefore advised to ascertain their eligibility for the license and authorisations applied for with utmost care and diligence. The application shall be decided, so far as practicable, within 60 days of the submission of the application complete in all respect and the applicant company shall be informed accordingly. In case the applicant is eligible for grant of license or additional authorisation, a Letter of Intent (LOI) will be issued. The applicant shall be required to deposit non- refundable Entry Fee and submit the Bank Guarantees / other documents and sign the license agreement within the specified period as mentioned in the letter of intent (LOI) failing which the offer of grant of license may be withdrawn at the expiry of the permitted period. Further, in respect of GMPCS authorisation issuance of LOI shall be subject to security clearance of the proposal by an Inter-Ministerial Committee.

(xii) In case the applicant is found to be not eligible for the grant of license for UNIFIED LICENSE or for additional authorisation under UL, the applicant shall be informed accordingly.

(xiii) The grant of License would be subject to fulfillment of all requisites under the application and meeting eligibility conditions by the applicant. Mere filing of application would not lead to assignment of any priority. If deemed expedient, Licensor may seek clarification before rejecting the application.

2. Entry Fee:

A one-time non-refundable Entry Fee for authorisation of each Service and service area shall be payable before signing of license agreement and thereafter for each additional authorisation (s) as per Annexure-I. The total amount of Entry fee shall be subject to a maximum of Rs. 15 Crore (Rupees Fifteen crore only).

3. License Fee:

(i) In addition to the Entry Fee, an annual License fee as a percentage of Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) shall be paid by the Licensee service-area wise for each authorized service separately as per procedure prescribed in applicable Chapter of Unified License from the effective date of the respective authorisation. The License fee is at present 8% of the AGR, inclusive of USO Levy which is presently 5% of AGR.

Provided that from Second Year of the effective date of respective authorisation, the License fee shall be subject to a minimum of 10% of the Entry Fee of the respective authorized service and service area as in Annexure-I.

(ii) In case the Licensee obtains access spectrum for operation of any authorized service in a service area, a ‘presumptive AGR’ for that authorized service and service area shall be arrived at in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Notice Inviting Application (NIA) document of the auction of spectrum or conditions of spectrum allotment/LoI as the case may be. The License Fee based on presumptive AGR shall be applicable from the date of issue of Letter of Intent earmarking such spectrum or the effective date of the license/authorisation, whichever is later. The Licensee shall, in such cases, pay the license fee on the presumptive AGR or actual AGR or the minimum license fee whichever is higher.

In case, the Licensee obtains spectrum for any service and service area in different bids, the total presumptive AGR shall be the sum of the presumptive AGRs calculated on the basis of the respective Bid amounts as prescribed in the respective NIA or conditions of spectrum allotment/LoI as the case may be.

(iii) The Licensor reserves the right to modify the above mentioned License fee any time during the currency of this agreement.

4. Terms of License

The Unified License shall be issued on non-exclusive basis, for a period of 20 years. The Licensor may renew, if deemed expedient, the period of License by 10 years at a time, upon request of the Licensee, if made during the 19th year of the license period, on the terms specified by the Licensor, subject to extant policy. The decision of the Licensor shall be final and binding in this regard. On renewal, the Licensee may be required to pay a renewal fee as may be notified by the Licensor.

The prospective telecom service provider can obtain Unified License with authorisation for any number of offered services in the composite license document. Any number of the remaining services can also be authorized subsequently as per the request of licensee. However, the validity of license shall be 20 years from the effective date of the first authorisation in the Unified License. This would imply that authorisation for services added at a later date would be valid only for the remaining period, without any prorata rebate in entry fee etc. and on fulfillment of the additional eligibility criteria, payment of required fee etc.

5. Equity holding in other companies:

In the event of holding/obtaining Access spectrum, no licensee or its promoter(s) directly or indirectly shall have any beneficial interest in another licensee company holding “Access Spectrum” in the same service area.

For the purpose of this clause:

(a) Promoter shall mean legal entity other than Central Government, financial institutions and scheduled banks, which hold 10% or more equity in the licensee company.

(b) Beneficial interest shall mean holding of any equity directly or indirectly including through chain of companies in the licensee company.

(c) Any arrangement contrary to above shall be made consistent with the above stipulations within a period of one year from the date of grant of UL.

(d) Exception granted in para 1.4 of UAS licensee in respect of basic and CMTS licenses existing on 11.11.2003 shall end on the expiry of CMTS/UAS/Basic Service license held by such licensee. They shall comply with the above stipulation within a period of one year from the date of migration to UL.

6. Provision of Telecommunication services using satellite media:

In case of provision of services by the Licensee through the satellite media, the Licensee shall abide by the prevalent Government orders, directions, guidelines or regulations on the subject like satellite communication policy, V-SAT policy etc. For use of space segment and setting up of the Earth Station etc., the Licensee shall directly coordinate with and obtain clearance from Network Operations and Control Centre (NOCC), apart from obtaining SACFA clearance. The clearance from other authorities as may be applicable shall also be obtained by the Licensee.

7. Security Conditions

7.1 The Chief Officer in charge of technical network operations and the Chief Security Officer/Chief Information Security Officer, and in-charge of GMSC, MSC, Soft-Switch, Central Database, ILD Gateway, VSAT Hub, INSAT MSS-R Hub, PMRTS Central/Base Station, GMPCS Gateway, Switches and System Administrators shall be resident Indian citizen.The positions of the Chairman, Managing Director, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and/or Chief Financial Officer (CFO), if held by foreign nationals, would require to be security vetted by Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). Security vetting shall be required periodically on yearly basis. In case something adverse is found during the security vetting, the direction of MHA shall be binding on the Licensee. All foreign personnel likely to be deployed by the LICENSEE for installation, operation and maintenance of the LICENSEE’s network shall also be security cleared by the Government of India prior to their deployment. The security clearance will be obtained from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, who will follow standard drill in the matter.

7.2 LICENSOR shall have the right to take over the SERVICE, equipment and networks of the LICENSEE or revoke/terminate/suspend the LICENSE either in part or in whole of the Service area in the interest of national security or in case of emergency or war or low intensity conflict or any other eventuality in public interest as declared by the Government of India. Any specific orders or direction from the Government issued under such conditions shall be immediately applicable to the LICENSEE without loss of time and shall be strictly complied with. Further, the LICENSOR reserves the right to keep any area out of the operation zone of the service if implications of security so require. Provided any taking over or suspension of license, issuance of an order and exclusion of an area, as described above shall neither be a ground of extension of license period or expansion of area in different corner or reduction of duly payable fee
7.3 For detailed conditions of the Unified License , applicant may refer to the UL document attached herewith or on the DoT website .

8. Migration / Renewal of existing Licenses

8.1 “In order to ensure that the UL (unified licence) regime covers all existing licences, a migration path is offered to the existing licensees to migrate to UL regime. Licensees of any of the existing Telecom Services Provider shall be eligible to migrate to UL with any number of additional services.”

8.2 It would be open for existing Licensees of any Telecom service to migrate to Unified License well before the due date of expiry of existing license. However, it would be mandatory for an existing Licensee to migrate to Unified License Regime under following conditions:

a) All the Telecom Service Providers who wish to expand the scope of their license/ service to include any additional service or any licensed area/Service Area, shall have to migrate all of its existing licenses to Unified License regime. This shall also be applicable when additional service/Service Area License is acquired through transfer/merger of license from another Licensee. Further, on expiry of any of their current license, the Telecom Service Providers shall have to migrate all its licenses to Unified License regime at the time of renewal/extension of license and obtain spectrum separately, which is delinked from Unified License, if required.

b) In case of Merger & Acquisition being sought by Licensee with a Telecom service Provider who has not migrated to UL, the merged entity shall migrate to UL and both/all licensees involved in the Merger and Acquisition Activity shall give an undertaking to this effect prior to Merger and Acquisition Activity.

8.3 The procedure for migration of existing licensees are as follows:-

(i) On migration, Unified License shall be for a period of 20 years from the effective date of UL, irrespective of the validity period of the License already held.

(ii) Entry fee applicable to migration to Unified License shall be equal to entry fee for new Unified License except for Internet Service Provider with BWA spectrum. For migration of ISP with BWA spectrum to UL regime with authorisation of providing access services, which enables it to provide mobile voice services also using BWA spectrum, an additional fee equal to the difference between the entry fee for UASL as per details in Annexure V and entry fee paid for ISP license shall be payable in addition to the entry fee as applicable for new UL.

However, a rebate on pro-rata basis to the Telecom Service Provider in entry fee for migration to UL license with respect to ILD/ NLD/ UL(AS)/ UASL/ CMTS licenses only shall be given as per formulae below:

Sl. No. Type of Existing License Rebate
1 ILD / NLD Rs 12.5 lakh x No of years remaining for existing NLD/ ILD License validity.
2 UL(AS)/UASL/ CMTS in various service area Rs 5 lakh for each service area except J&K and NE and Rs. 2.5 lakh J&K and NE service area x No of years remaining for existing UL(AS)/UASL/CMTS License validity subject to maximum limit of Rs. 15 crore.

(iii) In respect of other licensees who may opt to migrate to Unified License, pro-rata rebate to the Telecom Service Provider may be given on the Entry Fee paid, if any, by them for obtaining their respective Licenses based on the balance number of years (Part of year shall not be counted). However, no Entry Fee refund shall be made by the Licensor.

(iv) After migration, the terms and conditions of Unified License shall be applicable, however, Roll out obligation and any other relevant liabilities including financial dues and treatment of violations and imposition of penalty thereof, if any, associated with the existing Licenses/spectrum shall remain applicable under the terms of existing license even after migration to Unified License.

(v) In case of an existing Licensee holding spectrum acquired through auction or otherwise under any existing License, migrates to UL, the validity period of the spectrum already held by them shall remain same. e.g. if a Telecom Service Provider was granted a license on 1.1.2006 in Bihar Service Area and was assigned spectrum subsequently, the validity of spectrum held will be till 31.12.2025. On migration to UL on any date, say 01.04.2014, the validity of spectrum held in Bihar (Service Area) shall still remain 31.12.2025 while the validity of UL shall be 31.3.2034.

(vi) Any decision by the Licensor regarding charges payable for holding spectrum shall remain applicable even after migration to UL for the spectrum already held by it.

(vii) Existing licensees who have been allotted spectrum through an administrative process other than auction and who opt to migrate to UL, may be subjected to a charge for any spectrum they hold, as per decision of the Government from time to time.

9. After the issue of these guidelines, no other license for any of the services covered under Unified License shall be issued/extended/renewed.

10. Any applicant who has been issued a LoI for grant of a License in the existing regime prior to UL guidelines, shall be considered for grant of UL with applicable terms and conditions for that authorisation only .In such cases, processing fee /entry fee already paid shall be adjusted. In no case, processing fee/entry fee already paid shall be refunded either in part or full.

11. The LICENSOR reserves the right to modify at any time these guidelines and terms and conditions of the LICENSE, if in the opinion of the LICENSOR it is necessary or expedient to do so in public interest or in the interest of the security of the State or for the proper conduct of the telegraphs. The decision of the LICENSOR shall be final and binding in this regard.

12. If at any time, any averments made or information furnished for obtaining the license is found incorrect, the application and the license if granted thereto on the basis of such application, may invite penalties and/or cancellation as may be deemed fit by the Licensor.

13. Applications are to be submitted to the Under Secretary (AS-I), Department of Telecommunications, Sanchar Bhavan, 20 Ashoka Road, New Delhi-110 001.

(Notification 20-281/2010-AS-I (Vol VI) dated 19 August 2013)