Only 15 licences fit for cancellation on delayed roll out: DoT

Only 15 licences fit for cancellation on delayed roll out: DoT

"Yes, for 15 cases. Initially we had identified as 17 however in two cases it hinged on a particular interpretation and that interpretation was with regard to roll out obligation.

"The key question was when does the zero day start. Is it from the licence date or some other date. So on that it is clear that the zero date starts not from the licence date but from the date of allocation of spectrum," Telecom Secretary R Chandrasekar told PTI.

Earlier, the DoT had identifed 17 cases fit for sending notices for cancellation of licences on account of delay in network rollout.

"So out of 17 cases two were dropped because of certain clarifications which we had to take internally," he added.

Asked whether Trai has responded to DoT's letter, he said "we have just sent the letter to Trai and response is yet to be received."

Last year, Trai had had recommended to the DoT to cancel 69 telecom licences of five operators, including joint ventures of Telenor-Unitech, Etisalat-Swan and Sistema-Shyam.

Chandrasekar further added, "Till now we have sent 10 notices and rest five will be issued within this week. All these are on account of delay in network rollout."

The cancellations pertain to licences issued in 2007-08 by former telecom minister A Raja, who was sacked last year when his ministry was accused of selling licences and spectrum cheaply, possibly costing the government billions of dollars in revenue.

"We have to go as per the licence conditions. So we have written back to the Trai that on the basis of our assesment there are 15 cases fit for sending notices for cancellation on account of delayed in network rollout," he said.

In two cases, the DoT found out that spectrum was allocated only in few districts of a circle so it was difficult to interpret terms and conditions of a licence which says that 10 per cent of a circle should be covered in the first year.

In view of this two cases have been dropped by the DoT.

Chandrasekhar also said that some of these 15 cases would be common with those who were ineligible to get licences and separate notices would be sent to these player on both counts.