The telecom ministry has reportedly imposed a penalty of Rs50 crore each on Bharti Airtel and Tata Communications for providing international private lease circuits to foreign company Singapore Telecommunications Ltd (SingTel) in violation of international long-distance (ILD) licence terms and conditions.
Citing unnamed sources in the department of telecommunications (DoT), The Economic Times said notices have been sent to the two companies for violating the terms and conditions of their ILD licence. However, both Bharti Airtel and Tata Communications have denied receiving any such notice.
If the notices have indeed been issued, it would be in contrast with the ministry's earlier stance, the report notes. The DoT had earlier pulled up SingTel for violating ILD licence norms by acquiring and billing customers in India without a licence between 2005 and 2009, and had given a clean chit to Bharti Airtel and the Tatas which had provided international private lease circuits to the foreign firm.
The DoT has set up a committee to examine and suggest the amount of penalty to be imposed on Tata Communications and Bharti Airtel for the violation of ILD licence norms, the report adds.
As per the licensing norms, Indian ILD operators are authorised to provide Indian circuits to a foreign carrier (like SingTel in this case) so that they are able to provide end-to-end services to their customers in their territories.
The committee found from submissions made Bharti that the company had raised the invoice to SingTel at its Singapore address for the portion of circuit provided by Bharti Airtel. Airtel paid the applicable licence fee on the revenue earned by providing the Indian half circuit.
Tata Communications Ltd (formerly the state-owned VSNL) had said in its reply that SingTel has not submitted any document showing that the customer was acquired outside India and it have not felt any need to check this because as per the agreement, SingTel can acquire customers only in its own licensed territory and not in India.