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DTH News : DoT to ask TRAI to review proposal on licence cancellation
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New Delhi, Feb. 10:

In a relief to some of the new mobile operators, the Department of Telecom has decided to ask the telecom regulator to review its recommendations to cancel licences for failing to complete the roll out obligations. While the TRAI had suggested cancelling nearly 70 licences given to 6 companies, DoT wants a rethink on at least 30 of these.

TRAI had suggested cancelling the licences based on various parameters. There were some operators that had not rolled out services at all for whom the regulator had suggested immediate cancellation. These operators will get no respite as the DoT will issue a show-cause notice to them. But in some cases TRAI had suggested cancellation after taking legal opinion because the operators had not rolled out enough number of base stations.

DoT officials said that according to the licence conditions operators are not required to put up a specific number of base stations or acquire subscribers to meet roll out obligation. “The licence conditions stipulate roll out obligation in terms of coverage. It does not ask operators to set up a specific number of base stations. So in such cases where TRAI has suggested cancellation because the operator's base stations are low we are asking for a review,” said a senior DoT official.

The DoT has also taken legal opinion on this issue. The legal advisor told the DoT that it should ask TRAI to review the recommendations before taking a final decision on the issue.

In November last year TRAI had named six companies including Etisalat DB (earlier known as Swan Telecom), Uninor (Unitech), Videocon (Datacom), Loop Telecom and Aircel for failing to complete the roll out obligation.

Mobile operators are required to cover at least 10 per cent of each district headquarters in each circle within 12 months of the date of award of the licence. While Uninor and Sistema have rolled out services partially, Etisalat DB and Loop Telecom have not launched at all. Videocon has done some roll-outs in six out of its 22 circles. Some of these operators will get a respite if DoT decides to accept TRAI proposals partially.

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