India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) could withdraw a previous ruling waiving licence fees for fixed line operators in rural regions, the Business Standard is reporting. Having introduced the waiver in September 2008, the regulator may reverse the move following a clash with the finance ministry, which claims that the DoT failed to obtain its permission for the legislation. The waiver has been suspended since the finance ministry challenged the regulation at the end of last year, and it is now expected that the Telecom Commission will issue a final decision on the matter if it is not resolved. It is understood the DoT, rather than simply withdrawing the plans, may yet approach the finance ministry to gain official approval.
The rural incentive was introduced on the back of suggestions by the Telecom Commission that such a move could help to halt the decline in rural fixed line expansion. The government has set a target of 25% rural fixed line penetration by 2012.