India’s largest telecom service provider, Bharti Airtel, may end up paying Rs 1,650 crore of penalty to the government for violation of licence conditions.
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is considering imposing a new fine of Rs 650 crore on the company for allowing other telecom service providers to use its spectrum and offer services in 13 circles where they did not have licences, sources said.
The news sent the company’s shares down 2% intra-day on the Bombay Stock Exchange, before recovering to close up 0.5% to Rs 316.
The DoT had earlier imposed a fine of Rs 350 crore on the company for offering 3G services in seven circles where it did not have licences. The company had entered into inter-circle roaming agreements with Idea Cellular and Vodafone and was offering services where they had won spectrum for 3G services. The matter is currently subjudice.
The government is likely to impose a penalty of Rs 650 crore on the company for providing subscriber local dialing (SLD) services. In 2003, the company was offering SLD services, which was not permitted according to licence conditions. Under this service, a subscriber could talk while moving, without paying roaming charges. The file has been approved by communications minister Kapil Sibal.
A company spokesperson declined to comment. However, a source close to the company said that it will appeal to the Telecom Dispute Settlement Appellate Tribunal when the DoT imposes the fine.