Telcos may face fines for unverified users

28 Aug 2008

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is considering penalties for all telcos that have not verified their subscribers, Indian news source The Economic Times is reporting. The DoT’s internal committee, set up to determine penalties, has plans to impose fines of up to INR5,000 (USD114) per unverified user; regulations mandate that all operators must verify their subscribers. The DoT is considering three different fines to come into force after April 2009; INR1,000 per unverified user will be applicable for those telcos whose verification rate is over 95%, INR5,000 for operators with a verification rate of 90%, and INR10,000 for those below the 90% cut-off. The move comes after the DoT asked telcos to re-verify all customers last year, and disconnect those users that could not be verified. The regulator followed up by conducting surveys to verify claims by telcos, issuing show cause notices to companies including Bharti Airtel, Tata Teleservices and Vodafone Essar.

Additionally, fines for operators who have network towers operational in restricted areas near the country’s international borders are being contemplated, with initial indications suggesting a penalty of INR1,000 per week per tower.

The regulator can only impose these fines after endorsement of the proposals by the Telecom Commission; no expected date for decision on the matter has been given.