New telecom operators have coughed up Rs73.73 crore in penalty for failing to meet the network rollout deadline. The government is at the same time keeping the option of canceling their licences also open.
"Total penalty is about Rs219 crore for missing roll-out obligations. We had generated demand for over Rs78 crore of which the operators have submitted Rs73.73 crore," telecom minister Kapil Sibal told reporters in New Delhi.
Among the players who paid up the liquidated damages (penalty) are Etisalat DB, Loop Telecom, Uninor, Sistema-Shyam and Aircel, according to Sibal. He added that more notices would be going out to operators.
Responding to a question as to whether the matter would end with the payment of penalty or licences could still be cancelled, Sibal said a decision would be taken after due consideration.
Etisalat DB Telecom, a joint venture between Swan and UAE-based Etisalat, has paid Rs9.9 crore for not being able to meet the roll-out deadline across four circles. The company, however, said it was paying the penalty under protest.
Uninor, a joint venture between realty player Unitech and Telenor of Norway, has also paid an undisclosed amount as penalty.