The Telegraph
Monday , January 25 , 2010
Since 1st March, 1999
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Scanner on telecom duo for SingTel ties

New Delhi, Jan. 24: Mobile operators Bharti Airtel and Tata Communications may be asked to terminate their contracts with Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel), which is allegedly offering international long distance services in India without a licence.

“We are conducting an investigation into the issue and will come out with an official direction soon,” said officials of the department of telecom (DoT). SingTel is the parent company of SingTel Global (India) Pvt Ltd, which has an ILD licence in India.

The DoT has alleged that SingTel has tied up with Bharti and Tata Communications (previously VSNL), two licensed ILD operators, to offer the services. Bharti and Tata Communications can provide ILD services to the authorised service providers/customers in India and issue bills.

“However, the private telecom operators are raising invoices to SingTel, which is neither a bona fide customer of ILD services nor a service provider in India,” said the officials. This implies that Bharti and Tata Communications have also violated the licence conditions.

The DoT said it might recover the revenue loss arising out of the non-payment of licence fee from the licensed ILD service provider, Singtel Global (India) Pvt Ltd.

“All customers being provided services by SingTel may be transferred to Bharti/VSNL or SingTel Global,” they added.

Foreign telecom firm SingTel, which has over 32 per cent stake in Bharti Airtel, may also attract a penalty for violating laws and offering services without a licence.

In its response, SingTel has said it “does not provide any telecom service in India nor has acted as an independent service provider in India at any point of time. SingTel does not provide ILD services to any customer in India”.

The move comes close to the DoT’s plans to penalise other foreign telecom firms such as AT&T, British Telecom, Equant (France Telecom) and Verizon for illegally offering services before obtaining licences to operate in India.

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