India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is planning to send 20 notices to an undisclosed number of operators regarding proposed licence cancellations, the Indian Economic Times reports. Citing telecom secretary R Chandrashekhar, the report claims that the next round of notices will follow on from those that the regulator issued earlier this month, which called for the cancellation of Etisalat DB’s concessions in the Mumbai and Delhi circles and Idea Cellular’s concession in Punjab; the notices claimed that neither operator had met their respective rollout obligations.
Separately the Economic Times also reports that the Ministry of Communications will make its final decision on the cancellation of those concessions it claims were handed to ineligible companies in 2008 in around a month. ‘We have received replies from all 85 licence holders who were issued show cause notices. We are legally examining them and should be able to take a decision on it in a month’s time,’ Mr Chandrasekhar noted. It is understood that the process of sending out any remaining notices will be completed within a week, following which operators have 60 days to file a response. India’s previous telecoms minister Andimuthu Raja is presently facing charges regarding the issuing of 122 licences in 2008 without auctioning India’s scarce wireless spectrum, which it has been claimed caused a presumptive loss of more than INR1.76 trillion (USD38.7 billion). In a response to the Public Accounts Committee on the matter the DoT has, however, rejected the claims that such losses stemmed from the licence awards, instead arguing that the premium placed on the country’s scarce frequencies did not necessarily translate into a loss when seen from the view point of the consumer and public welfare. ‘The concept of notional loss when spectrum is given at a price discovered a few years earlier has to be balanced with the gains accruing to the consumers and the general improvement in public welfare in the form of faster economic growth,’ the DoT said.