The government has asked 11 telecom companies, including Tatas, Idea and Vodafone, who were given licences in 2006-2008, to submit a progress report on their commercial launches of mobile services, to ensure that scarce spectrum is not kept idle.
On instructions from the Prime Minister’s Office, the Department of Telecom (DoT) has sent out a letter seeking a progress report from all these 11 telecom operators, who were given spectrum bundled with licences in 2006, 2007 and 2008.
"The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has sought information relating roll-out of services from licensees.It is therefore requested that the information must be submitted in a given format," the DoT notice said.
Besides Tatas, Vodafone and Idea, the notices have gone to Etisalat DB, Loop Telecom, Shyam-Sistema, Videocon Telecommunications, S-Tel, Aircel, Spice Communications and Unitech Wireless, DoT officials said.
The government had earlier said that the spectrum would be taken back in case the operators do not fulfill network roll-out obligations in the specified time.
In 2006 and 2007, existing telecom telecom players like Idea, Aircel and Vodafone were given licences in some extra circles during the regime of Dayanidhi Maran. In 2008, new telecom licences were given to as many as nine by A Raja.
All these firms were given licences along with spectrum at a fixed pan India price of Rs 1,658 crore depending upon circle-wise prices.
Most of the operators have started services in some circles and are in the process to cover other circles. Among the new players, no operator got spectrum in Delhi other than Etisalat DB, a joint venture between Etisalat and Swan Telecom.
Sources said that the new telecom firms are looking for joint venture partners to bring in fresh capital to meet the investment needed to roll out networks and start services.