India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) looks likely to revoke licences held by Idea Cellular in six circles, according to the Indian Economic Times. The report cites an unnamed source close the matter as saying: ‘The DoT will soon send notice to Idea Cellular asking them to stop their services in six service areas in Karnataka, Punjab, Maharashtra, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh and Delhi. The department has also imposed a fresh penalty of INR3 billion (USD55.8 million) on the company for missing out rollout obligations.’ Of the six concessions expected to be revoked, two belong to Idea itself – those being for Punjab and Karnataka – while the remaining four are owned by Spice Communications, the mobile operator which Idea agreed to purchase in June 2008.
As noted in TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the purchase of Spice has been anything but smooth; July 2010 saw reports that the DoT was preparing to issue show cause notices to Idea requesting that it surrender the six licences that overlapped with those the company acquired following its purchase of Spice. The matter has rumbled on since, with one of the most recent developments coming in July 2011, at which date the Delhi High Court ruled that Spice’s six licences would not be transferred to Idea, while also slapping the cellco with an INR10 million fine for failing to submit the correct information in the case. Under the terms of the ruling the six contended concessions were ordered to be placed under the control of the DoT, and for those two circles where Spice had previously launched services (Punjab and Karnataka) the regulator was directed to ensure that services were not interrupted