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DoT may proceed to cancel new licenses soon

New Delhi: Several new telecom operators are likely to take more than 104 weeks time given to roll out services which may prompt the Department of Telecom (DoT) to issue show-cause notices for cancellation of licenses soon.
The DoT is looking at licences, issued in January 2008 by former Telecom Minister A Raja, which have failed to start services as stipulated in the licence conditions.
"If you take cases of 2008, the counting starts from the date of the issue of spectrum. So, two years from that would, in most of these cases, be around the current moment," Telecom Secretary R Chandrasekhar told.
As per the conditions of licence, the licencees are required to roll out the services in 90 percent of the service area in metros and 10 percent in district headquarters within 12 months (52 weeks) from the date of award of licences.
Some of the new operators who were granted licences in 2008 have already missed the 52-week timeline and are now approaching the second timeline of 52 weeks.
Asked whether DoT would be sending notices to these operators, he said a decision would be taken after due consideration and after seeking a legal opinion.
Earlier, the DoT had served notices to 119 telecom licencees for suppressing information while applying for licences and then missing the timeline to roll-out services in respective circles.
The ministry had levied Rs 218 crore liquidated damages on several new operators for missing roll-out schedule. The operators have already paid over Rs 90 crore.
In case show cause notices were issued for cancelation of licences, the operators would be given 60 days time to respond to the notices before DoT takes the final decision.
Asked how the government would safeguard the subscribers` interest registered with operators whose licences may be cancelled, Chandrasekhar said Mobile Number Portability (MNP) would be the right tool to protect consumers.
The DoT is likely to launch nation-wide MNP from January 20 this year. MNP is a service that allows subscribers to change their operators while retaining the same number.
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