New Delhi: Irked over delay by operators in rolling out telecom networks, the Department of Telecom has issued notices to leading service providers including the Tatas, Bharti and Reliance asking why they should not be penalised.
While Tata Teleservices faces a penalty of Rs 150 crore, Anil Ambani-led Reliance Communications faces a fine of Rs 140 crore and Sunil Mittal-headed Bharti Airtel Rs 50 crore.
The penalties are for not meeting the roll-out norm on time as stipulated in the licensing conditions. These penalties are decided on the number of circles in which the operators have failed to roll-out networks as desired.
When contacted, officials of various companies confirmed receiving the show-cause notices.
Both the industry associations - COAI and AUSPI - have taken up the matter with DoT and would be giving a formal reply to the DoT very soon, association sources said.
Besides these three, Aircel also faces a penalty of Rs 50 crore while Hutch and HFCL have been given a showcause notice to explain why they should not be fined Rs 10 crore each. Together all these companies face a penalty of Rs 400 crore.
Sources said operators have cited lack of spectrum as the main reason for the delay in meeting the roll-out obligations.
”The reasons for delay lie with the government and not with us. They should first check those bottlenecks,” an official of a telecom company said.
According to the licence conditions of unified access services (UAS), operators would cover 10% of district headquarters within one year of getting a licence. As per this clause, a penalty of a maximum of Rs 7 crore per service area is levied on an operator in case of delay.