Telecom CEOs call on Sibal, seek clarity on 3G roaming

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on October 21, 2011

Mr Kapil Sibal, Minister of Communications and IT.

Telecom operators on Friday raised concerns about the numerous cases of penalty being imposed by the Department of Telecom.

At a meeting convened today with Mr Kapil Sibal, Minister of Communications and IT, the CEOs of all the leading cellular operators sought clarification on DoT's approach since many of the penalties are for minor technicalities.

They said that many of the fine imposed are on issues that are unclear and on which the industry itself has sought clarification from the DoT.

“A maximum penalty of Rs. 50 crore is levied without any reasoning or personal hearing. In fact levying Rs 50-crore penalty has become more of a norm than an exception,” said a statement from the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) after the meeting with the Minister.

Over the past few months, the DoT has slapped penalty on almost all the operators, including Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular, Vodafone Essar and Reliance Communications. The penalties have been imposed on allegations including non-verification of subscribers, illegal sale of SIM cards, masking of calls, non-completion of roll out obligation and violating the USO project rules.

The industry represented by CEOs and senior officials from COAI and Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India (AUSPI) highlighted that the practice of the local Telecom Enforcement Resource Monitoring (TERM) cells to audit, determine infringement and also levy a penalty is against the principles of natural justice where the local TERM Cell is positioned as the judge, jury and executioner.

The COAI said that Minister was open and receptive to industry concerns. “He indicated that he has already directed DoT to evolve guidelines to reduce the element of discretion and make this process as scientific as possible,” the industry body said.

Intra-circle roaming

Service providers also sought clarifications on the issue of intra-circle roaming arrangements for 3G spectrum. The operators said that 3G intra-circle roaming is not an infringement of the licence conditions but is well within the ambit of licence as clarified by DoT.

Mr Sibal on Thursday had said that though the long-term goal is to allow such arrangement that allows benefit to consumers, in the immediate case DoT will have to examine whether such roaming agreements were permitted under the existing rules or not.

“The Minister has promised to address the concern areas at the earliest,” said Mr. Rajan S. Mathews, Director-General of COAI.

Published on October 21, 2011
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