TRAI to recommend penalty for telcos on roll-out failures

This may spell more trouble for the beleaguered telecom minister A Raja, who is facing allegations of causing huge revenue loss due to non-auction of 2G spectrum (radio waves), given to nine operators in 2008. Many of them are yet to meet the roll-out obligations, or even launch the services.

All the new operators were given 2G spectrum at 2001 price of Rs 1,658 crore. The government auditor CAG has recently submitted report on the matter and is reported to have put the revenue loss to exchequer at up to Rs 1.76 lakh crore.

Raja has, however, contested the claims saying all decision were taken as per the existing policy which were being followed by his predecessors since 1999.

"Yes, we are working on it. We may give recommendations soon to the government," TRAI Chairman J S Sarma said.TRAI recommendations would include all the new licensees, who were given in January 2008 by Raja.

Officials said that non-starting of services tantamount to hoarding of scarce spectrum and this should be dealt with strongly.Seven new operators were given licences along with start-up 2G spectrum, besides allowing two existing CDMA operators to offer GSM mobile services as well under dual technology clause.

TRAI has collected data from most of the operators both new as well as others.Even the Department of Telecom (DoT) has formed an internal panel to look into the matter and propose penalty for defaulting operators.

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