05:47 pm - Sunday 24 September 2017

Kapil Sibal gives a nod to Airtel penalty

By insightVAS - Tue Mar 05, 12:22 pm

The recommendation of Department of Telecommunications committee to impose Rs 50 crore penalty each on seven licences of Bharti Airtel that entered into 3G agreements with other operators to provide the services beyond permitted zones have been acknowledged by the Union Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal.

Sources said the committee held that the “breach” of 3G provisions by seven licences of Bharti Airtel does not attract maximum penalty which is termination of the licences but recommended “imposition of maximum financial penalty permitted under licence conditions ie Rs 50 crore against each licence“.

The Minister approved the recommendation on February 27, the sources said.

Airtel won 3G spectrum in 13 out of 22 telecom circles in 2010 through auction and entered into a quid pro quo agreement with other players who won the spectrum in other service area where it did not have spectrum to offer 3G services.

DoT put it forward that it is not legal to offer 3G data services beyond company’s licensed circle. On December 23, 2011, the DoT had issued a letter instructing various telecom service providers including the Bharti Airtel to immediately stop providing the intra circle roaming service in all service area.

The operators, however, had moved the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) challenging the DoT order, saying it would harm customers and investment in the sector. In July 2012, the tribunal had delivered a split verdict.

While one member of the two-member bench favoured the DoT’s claim that roaming agreements were illegal, the other supported the operators who had challenged it.

DoT issued another notice to Bharti Airtel in September 2012 and as a consequence the leading telco approached Delhi High Court and the matter is still sub-judice.

No immediate comments could be elicited from Bharti Airtel.

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