New Delhi: Telecom Ministry after penalizing new operators who failed to roll out services on time is now turning the heat on old service providers by finalizing a penalty of over Rs 150 crore on them.

"The Department of Telecom (DoT) has finalised the fine of over Rs 150 crore on the established telecom operators for not rolling out their networks on time in the past," a senior DoT official said.

Last year, DoT had issued 119 notices to new telecom operators for slipping on network roll-out obligations and had levied penalties on them. It has collected over Rs 300 crore from them in penalties.

Earlier, the ministry had proposed penalty (or Liquidated Damages) of Rs 477 crore (later reduced to Rs 135.60 crore) against old operators, including Bharti Airtel, Tata Teleservices, RCom, Aircel and others for missing roll out obligations.

However, after interest component, the total penalty comes to a little over Rs 150 crore from all the operators together, sources said. No notice has been sent to any player so far in this regard.

The penalty was lowered after several representations by the operators, who said that roll-out obligations should come into effect from the date of allotment of spectrum and not from the date of issuance of licences.

They also claimed that statutory clearances came through late, leading to cascading delays in the roll-out of services.

As per the earlier calculations, Bharti Airtel had a penalty of Rs 31 crore, while Tata Tele (CDMA operations) was likely to be asked to pay over Rs 40 crore.

Recently, DoT also issued notices for terminating telecom licences to new telecom operators, asking them to reply within 60 days as to why their licences should not be cancelled.

Agencies