Sibal okays penalty on Bharti Airtel

Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal haS approved levying of Rs 650 crore penalty on Bharti Airtel for allegedly violating roaming norms in 13 service areas between 2003 and 2005.

The minister has approved penalty of Rs 650 crore on SLD (Subscriber Local Dialing) matter. The Department of Telecom (DoT) will issue demand notice, sources in the ministry said.

However when contacted a Bharti Airtel spokesperson said, “We have not received any communication from the DoT in this regard and therefore would not be able to comment.”

The decision to impose penalty was taken after an internal committee of the DoT said it found Bharti Airtel routing national and international calls as local calls (SLD) under a scheme till 2005 despite being told to stop it in 2003, causing loss to the government exchequer and state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL).

“Bharti Airtel had converted NLD/ILD (STD and ISD) calls into local calls. In this manner it has passed payment of licence fee and spectrum charges payment to the exchequer and also payment of the Access Deficit Charge to BSNL," it said.

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