New players may have to shell out more

New players may have to shell out more

2G spectrum scam: Cancellation of licences likely to lead to legal tangles

Though the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) recommended that the government cancel 69 licences issued to six companies (five new and one old companies) for violating the roll-out obligations, official sources in the government said it was of the opinion that cancellation of licences may not be a viable solution as it is likely to lead to legal tangles.
According to Trai, the companies which failed to follow roll-out conditions are Etisalat, a company earlier known as Swan, Sistema-Shyam, Unitech group’s Uninor, Videocon Communication, Loop Telecom and old company Air Cell.

Sources indicated that the government would look at the eligibility criteria based on which the players got spectrum licences, and if required, the new players would be asked to pay more fees to make up for the losses to the exchequer.

Sources said it was yet to be worked out on what basis the operators could be asked to give more money. They said it could be on the basis of an auction for 3G spectrum or the money that some private operators were ready to shell out in 2007.

On Trai’s report, sources said  Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal has asked the department to prepare a detailed note on it and discuss it before taking any action.

The Telecom Ministry, in 2008, had distributed 122 licences to new operators besides giving away 34 dual technology licences. It distributed start-up 2G spectrum at Rs 1,651 crore for pan-India operations.

The  CAG has estimated the loss to the exchequer at Rs 1.76 lakh crore due to the non-auctioning of spectrum.

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