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Indian begins crackdown on 2G licences issued without auction

India’s Department of Telecommunications is preparing to dispute the eligibility of 85 licensees who reportedly did not meet the requisite criteria when their licences were issued in 2008.

The statement was made by telecoms minister Kapil Sibal. His department is also reportedly planning on investigating companies that missed their deadlines for network rollouts, demanding fines if the firms are in violation of their agreements. If firms do not comply with the regulations and deploy services within a year, they will have their licences revoked.

India’s telecoms sector has been at the centre of many allegations recently, and this news indicates that the country is beginning to crack down on the endemic fraud and corruption that reportedly plague the sector.

The 2G licences that were sold in 2008 were allegedly so undervalued that they may have lost India revenue worth as much as US$40 billion. The scandal resulted in the resignation of the previous telecoms minister, Andimuthu Raja, and the country’s regulatory authority TRAI has requested the annulment of 62 regional licences, also issued in 2008. Many of these licences are now held by major international operators such as Sistema and Etisalat.

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