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Sibal meet telecom issues
New Delhi, Dec 21 (IANS):
Published on 21 Dec. 2010 11:55 PM IST
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Communications Minister Kapil Sibal Tuesday met the chairmen of India’s top three telecom companies to get their views on matters that are coming in the way of the industry’s growth, including the process to award airwaves now under a cloud.
The minister met with Airtel chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal, Tata Telecom chairman Ratan Tata and Reliance Communications chairman Anil Ambani, and is scheduled to hold similar meetings with the top brass of other companies Wednesday, officials said.
The three industrialists, however, declined to talk to the media after their meetings.
The agenda for the close-door meetings included dicussion on hoarding of airwaves by some telecom companies, move to cancel licenses of some firms for poor roll-out of services, and fine-tuning of existing policy on spectrum for the future, officials said.
“The minister also wanted inputs for drafting a comprehensive new telecom policy,” said an official, adding that the general perception is that the previous one, in existence since 1999, has been the root cause of the current mess.
The meetings started as the communications ministry began issuing notices to those firms that had failed to comply with the roll-out norms for second generation telecom services as also those that had not disclosed their proper corporate structure.
Communications Minister Kapil Sibal had said there were 119 cases where these roll-out obligations were not met and 85 cases where firms had manipulated the self-certification process about their financial strength and main line of business to get the licences.
Last week, India’s telecom watchdog had recommended scrapping of 69 of the 130 licences given for 2G phone services since December 2006. Of these, 20 had been issued to Loop, 15 to Etisalat DB, 11 to Sistema-Shyam, 10 to Videocon, 8 to Uninor, and 5 to Aircel.
The licences stipulate coverage of at least 90 percent of the areas in metro centres within one year. In non-metro areas, 10 percent of the towns must be covered in the first year and 50 percent within three years.
Last month, DMK leader A. Raja was forced to resign as communications minister after the official audit institution indicted him in the spectrum scam and said he caused notional losses of Rs.58,000 crore ($12.8 billion) to Rs.1.76 lakh crore ($40 billion) to the exchequer.
Raja -- also being probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) -- is alleged to have sold spectrum at below market rates. Sibal, too, named a one-man panel to examine how appropriate the current norms are to allocate airwaves to telecom players.

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