DoT to soon decide on telcos missing eligibility norms

New Delhi: The Telecom Ministry has received replies from all the operators who were issued show cause notices for not meeting the eligibility criteria for licences and will soon decide on action against errants, a top official said on Wednesday.

"The replies to all the earlier show cause notices for the cancellation on account of eligibility have been received.

While for failure of the roll-out, they (operators) have 60 days to reply," Telecom secretary R Chandrasekhar said on the sidelines of a Ficci event.

Last year, DoT had served 119 show cause notices to various telecom operators, of which 85 were for those ineligibile to get licences.

"They are currently under examination and we hope in the next couple of weeks to form our final decision," he said.

The notices, as pointed out by the CAG, were sent out to telcos for their alleged ineligiblity to get licences due to the misinformation furnished by them, and for their failure to timely roll out networks.

The Comptroller and Auditor General had listed out licences given to new operators, including Unitech, Videocon, S-Tel, Loop and Swan. TRAI also pointed lapses in licences held by these apart from few others while recommending their cancellation.

According to the government auditor CAG, there was a revenue loss of up to Rs 1.76 lakh crore in awarding licences and spectrum, the value of which were fixed according to 2001 price, for pan-India operations during the tenure of former telecom minister A Raja.

The operators were given 60 days to respond to showcause notices and each case would be dealt separately.

Meanwhile, on encrypted communications on Blackberry`s Enterprise mail services and Nokia`s push mail services, Telecom secretary R Chandrasekhar said, "We are separately looking at all the issues related to encrypted communications.

A committee has been constituted they have completed their work and once the final report is before us we will then discuss the next step with the security agency."

Recently, the Intelligence Bureau (IB) in a communication to Department of Telcom had asked the telecom regulator to ask service providers to bar Nokia`s push mail till the company put a legal security framework.

Replying to a question on whether DoT had taken any action on the Nokia`s push mail service, Chandrasekhar said,"We (DoT) have not issued any instructions at this point but we will review the matter after the report of the committee is final. All encrypted communications will be covered under this."

In February, the telecom department had set up the committee to look into issues related to encrypted communications.

The Indian Government is already in talks with Blackberry maker, RIM, to provide a solution to intercept Enterprise mail services, as per the satisfaction of law enforcement agencies.