Trai recommends cancellation of 69 2G licences

NEW DELHI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has recommended cancellation of 69 of the 122 licences given for 2G phone services to new players in 2008.

Senior Trai officials said the roll out of services on these licences had failed to comply with the set norms. Six companies had been given these 69 licences.

The official said the licensing terms clearly spell out how much network has to be rolled out in the licensed area each year, and also lists the penalty for failing to do so.
Following the recommendation, Telecom minister Kapil Sibal is understood to have convened a meeting of top officials. Telecom Secretary R Chandrasekhar and other senior officials, particularly those dealing with policy and licensing, were also believed to be in the meeting to discuss the recommendations of the Trai. Notices could be issued to the companies to show cause why the licences should not be scrapped.

Sibal was given additional charge of Communications and IT Ministry earlier this week after A Raja stepped down following his indictment by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in the 2G spectrum allocation of 2008.

Of the 69 licences, 20 have been issued to Loop Telecom, 15 to Etisalat DB, 11 to Sistema-Shyam, 10 to Videocon, 8 to Uninor, and 5 to Aircel.

The uproar over the 2G scam has not only forced the resignation of Raja, but also pointed a finger at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for not taking action. 
The CAG has estimated the presumptive revenue loss to the exchequer at between Rs.580 billion ($12.8 bilion) and Rs.1760 billion (nearly $40 billion), based on different valuation parameters.

In the 96-page report including annexures tabled in parliament, the auditor sought to spell out what it felt was the potential loss to the exchequer in 2G spectrum allocation in 2007-08 due to policies followed by then communications minister A. Raja.

Trai officials said many new telecom companies also failed to roll out despite getting licences. It said such companies should be levied fine and their spectrum withdrawn.

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