Telcom regulator TDSAT today ordered Uninor, Videcon Teleservices, S Tel and Idea Cellular that secured 2G licences in 2008, to pay 60 percent of the penalty imposed by DOT for their failure to roll out services on time.
The four operators were given this direction in an interim order by Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal, which asked them to deposit part of the penalty within two weeks.
Directing DoT to file its reply within two weeks, TDSAT has listed the matter for further hearing on February 10.
The TDSAT interim order came over a bunch of separate petitions filed by the four operators challenging DoT’s demand notice seeking liquidated damages for not rolling out their services within the stipulated period of one year.
S Tel, which is jointly owned by C Sivasankaran and Bahrain Telecommunications, had approached TDSAT challenging the penalty imposed by DoT for its failure to timely roll out services in Orissa, Assam, North East, Bihar and, Jammu and Kashmir circles.
While it has paid penalty for Assam and Bihar under protest, it is yet to pay for the other three circles.
Videocon, which had approached the tribunal for the second time, challenged the penalty demand by DoT for its failure to meet the roll-out obligations in Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka circles.
Uninor and Idea Cellular had approached TDSAT for one circle each. Uninor had challenged penalty for Punjab while Idea Cellular had challenged it for West Bengal.
Earlier in a similar case, TDSAT had directed Uninor to pay 60 per cent of the penalty demanded by the DoT for failing to roll out its services in 18 circles.
DoT had sent notices to several firms that got new 2G licenses bundled with start-up spectrum in 2008, but have not started offering services in various circles.
As per the conditions of the Unified Access Service License (UASL), the telcos are required to roll out their networks within a year from the date of allocation of spectrum.
According to the agreement, in case new licencees fail to roll out services within the stipulated period, DoT shall be entitled to recover liquidation damages.