Notices soon on errant telecom companies: Sibal

Monday, November 29, 2010

NEW DELHI - The government will issue notices to companies that supressed facts while securing licences and airwaves for second generation (2G) telecom services in the country between 2006 and 2008, Communications Minister Kapil Sibal said Monday.

He also assured complete investigation to see if these companies had manipulated the self-certification process regarding their financials and main line of business, specified in their memorandum of association, to get licences for telephone services.

“It is time we issued notices to these companies. There are in all 85 such cases,” Sibal said in his first official press conference after he was given the additional charge of communications portfolio, following the resignation of his predecessor A. Raja.

“These are matters of controversies. We are referring the matter to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs to see whether there were any front companies involved. So, we will take action accordingly,” he said.

His reference was also to the award of spectrum and licences to nine new firms, most of which had no prior experience in the telecom services industry, in January 2008 — a controversial matter that forced DMK’s A. Raja to resign Nov 5.

Sibal said if he went beyond the licences issued to these nine companies, there were 119 cases in all since 2006, where roll-out obligations were not met as per the terms and conditions that were agreed upon.

Last week, India’s telecom watchdog had recommended scrapping 69 of the 130 licences given for 2G phone services since December 2006, saying their roll-out of services had failed to comply with the set norms.

Of the 69 licences, 20 had been issued to Loop Telecom, 15 to Etisalat DB, 11 to Sistema-Shyam, 10 to Videocon, 8 to Uninor, and 5 to Aircel.

The licences stipulate coverage of at least 90 percent of the areas in metro centres within one year. In non-metro areas, 10 percent of the towns must be covered in the first year and 50 percent within three years.

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