DoT makes new license pulling threats

Dylan Bushell-Embling
07 Apr 2011

India's telecom ministry has given Aircel, Etisalat and Sistema Shyam Teleservices 60 days to justify missing their 2G rollout obligations, or risk having some licenses revoked.

The department of telecom (DoT) has issued show cause notices to Etisalat for two circles and Aircel and Sistema Shyam for three each, the Economic Timesreported.

Under the 2G license terms, the operators were required to deploy services to 90% of the metro regions of their coverage areas and 10% in district headquarters within 12 months of winning licenses.

Sistema Shyam's MTS brand has now launched in 22 circles and Aircel is live in all 23 circles, but according to the DoT all three missed their coverage targets in the relevant circles.

The DoT had issued 119 such notices last year, and has so far meted out a combined 3 billion rupees ($67.9 million) worth of fines, but has not pulled any licenses.

The three operators acquired 2G spectrum in the 2008 allocation, which became the subject of scandal over claims former telecom minister A Raja issued the licenses at prices well below market value, and to his preferred bidders.

Telecom regulator Trai has previously called for the three licenses to be canceled, and opposition politicians had tried to have all licenses issued during the 2008 allocation revoked.

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