Bharti and Tata told to cancel SingTel contracts

25 Jan 2010

India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) could call on Bharti Airtel and Tata Communications to cancel contracts signed with Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel), after the regulator claimed that the latter was offering international long-distance (ILD) services without a licence. According to the Economic Times, the DoT maintains that both Bharti and Tata had entered into ‘illegal agreement[s]’ with SingTel after appointing the Far Eastern firm to directly manage and bill their customer bases. In a response to the regulator however SingTel claimed that it ‘does not provide any telecom services in India nor has [it] acted in India as an independent telecom service provider at any point of time. SingTel does not provide any ILD services to any customers in India.’

This latest development follows reports earlier this month that foreign operators in India, including AT&T, British Telecom (BT), Equant and Verizon may face combined penalties of up to INR1.1 billion (USD22.34 million), after similar claims that they had operated ‘illegally’ by offering services in the country before receiving necessary licences. The Ministry of Communications of Information Technology is understood to have set up a committee to examine the matter, and this committee has claimed that the telcos ‘circumvented licensing norms by offering services here [in India]’ prior to 2006 without licences, which it argued led to financial losses for the government.