India may revoke 83 telecom licenses

Dylan Bushell-Embling
15 Aug 2011

The Indian government is seeking legal opinions over whether it can cancel up to 83 of the regional telecom licenses issued between 2006 and 2008.

Economic Times reports that the government has also issued show-cause notices to seven operators – Aircel, Dishnet Wireless, Etisalat DB, Idea Cellular, SSTL, Spice and Vodafone Essar Spacetel – over alleged violation of license terms including rollout obligations.

Regulator Trai last moth recommended that at least 53 licenses be cancelled and suggested the government seek legal opinions in 30 more cases.

A final decision on license cancellation over rollout obligations – a move Trai has been pressing for since last year, will be taken after legal advice is considered.

LiveMint on Sunday suggested that the license plan may be part of attempts to ensure India's overcrowded mobile market is cut back to a more sustainable number of competitors.

But in the midst of India's 2G license allocation scandal, seeking to revoke the licenses could prove to be a legal minefield.

To try to avoid litigation, DoT may offer token reimbursements, LiveMint said – but whether this will be enough to placate affected companies remains to be seen.

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