The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Thursday asked the government to cancel nearly 70 licences for 2G services of five new players - Etisalat, Videocon, Uninor, Loop and Sistema-Shyam - as they have not met roll-out (to establish their networks) conditions.
Shortly after TRAI made its recommendation on the network roll-out failure by these companies that were given licences and spectrum in 2008, Communications and IT minister Kapil Sibal called a meeting of top officials.
The regulator recommended cancellation of Etisalat's 15 licences, Sistema-Shyam's 10, Uninor's eight, Videocon's 10, and Loop's 19.
TRAI, which had recommended penalty for non-compliance with the roll-out obligations, said this amount could run into several thousands of crores.
"So, we had suggested these licences should be cancelled," the regulator said.
"This would vacate enormous amount of spectrum and this can be given to companies serious about meeting the schedule."
Sistema-Shyam and Uninor said they were in compliance with the network roll-out obligations and added they had not got any notice from either the government or the regulator.
As per the terms and conditions of the licence, licencees are required to roll-out their services in 90% service area in metros and 10% of all district headquarters in other service areas within 12 months of the date of award of licences.
"Audit found out that though these six new operators obtained the initial 4.4 Mhz spectrum in 81 service areas during the period April 2008 to January 2009, none of them had rolled out their services as per the provision of Unified Access Licences in any service area till December 31," according to a November 16 CAG report.