The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has called on the Telecoms Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to reconsider recommendations the latter made in November last year, in which it was suggested that the state cancel a total of 69 licences held by five operators for failing to roll out services in line with the terms of the concessions. According India’s Economic Times, the DoT has told the TRAI that it needs to reconsider the method it used to assess network rollout, amid claims that it had not considered delays in operators obtaining frequencies and clearances from government departments when judging whether rollout conditions had been met.
The development comes on the back of reports last month that suggested that the DoT could look to cancel fewer concessions than recommended by the TRAI. As previously reported by CommsUpdate, in May 2011 it was rumoured that the DoT was considering the cancellation of just 15 mobile telephony licences for failure to meet network rollout requirements, with two unnamed DoT officials cited at the time as having claimed that the TRAI’s method of assessing network rollout was flawed.
In the TRAI’s November 2010 recommendations those operators that it said should have their licence revoked for the non-rollout of services were: Loop Telecom (14 service areas); Sistema Shyam TeleServices, which operates under the MTS India banner (ten areas); Uninor (eight areas); and Etisalat DB Telecom, formerly Swan Telecom (two areas). Further, the regulator also called for a number of concessions to be withdrawn on the basis that rollout had not been satisfactory, with Etisalat, Videocon Telecommunications (formerly Datacom) and Loop Telecom facing the loss of 13, ten and five licences respectively.