Vi has to pay Rs 2,000 crore and Airtel Rs 1,050 crore. Notably, Vi’s bigger fine comes from its 2018 merger with Idea Cellular, which was fined Rs 950 crore.
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Telecom companies (telcos) Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea (Vi) have received notices from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) for the payment of cumulative penalties of Rs 3,050 crore, The Economic Times reported. A source told the paper the penalties are due in three weeks.
The penalty is for “flouting licence conditions by denying Reliance Jio Infocomm adequate points of connection (PoIs) in 2016, which affected quality of services”, the report added.
Moneycontrol could not independently verify the report.
Vi has to pay Rs 2,000 crore and Airtel Rs 1,050 crore. Notably, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommended Rs 1,050 fines for each for “not granting adequate PoIs in 21 circles each” in 2016. Vi’s bigger fine comes from its 2018 merger with Idea Cellular, which was fined Rs 950 crore for flouting rules in 19 circles.
An Airtel spokesperson told the paper termed the demand as “arbitrary and unfair” and said they are “deeply disappointed”.
“These allegations were frivolous and motivated. Bharti Airtel takes pride in maintaining high standards of compliance and has always followed the law of the land. We will challenge the demand and pursue the legal options available to us,” they added.
Vi did not respond to queries, as per the report.
The report added that while DoT had accepted TRAI’s recommendations in June 2019, it did not serve the notices till now.
TRAI had in October 2019 ruled that Airtel, Idea and Vodafone actions ahead of Jio’s commercial launch “appeared to stifle competition and were against public interest” and deserved the severest action – licence revoke – but instead recommended the highest financial penalties of Rs 50 crore per circle, “keeping in mind consumer inconveniences”.
These bills now come in addition to the huge aggregated gross revenue (AGR) and spectrum dues pending by both telcos and follows after the Centre’s September reforms giving the debt-pressed sector some relief.
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