Bharti Airtel approaches Telecom Ministry to discuss roaming penalty issue

Bharti Airtel approaches Telecom Ministry to discuss roaming penalty issue
Bharti Airtel has approached the Telecom Ministry to discuss the issue of Rs. 650 crore penalty which the Department of Telecom is likely to impose on the company for allegedly violating roaming norms, sources said.

The company in a letter to Communications and IT Minister Kapil Sibal has sought a meeting to present its case, sources added.

"We understand from the media reports that the DoT may impose an aggregate penalty of Rs. 650 crore on our company for offering service namely Subscriber Local Dialing in 13 service areas," the company said in the letter.

"There has been no violation and that we are in full compliance of the licence terms an early opportunity of personal hearing is given to us to represent our case before any final decision is taken by DoT on this issue," Airtel's Joint Managing Director and CEO, Gopal Vittal said in the letter.

The company did not immediately respond to a query seeking comments on the matter.

Sibal is learnt to have approved levying of Rs. 650 crore penalty on Bharti Airtel for violating roaming norms in 13 service areas between 2003 and 2005.

The company claimed that DoT has made made no effective communication in this regard with it since 2005.

"As a result of delay we are likely to be seriously affected in our ability to produce or lead evidence which may also be no longer in existence to establish our case," the letter said.

An internal committee of Department of Telecom had found Bharti Airtel routing national and international calls as local calls (SLD) under a scheme till 2005 despite being told to stop it in 2003, causing loss to the government exchequer and state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL), sources said.

The operator had not stopped the service at least up to June 2005 even after specific directions from the DoT was issued on June 20, 2003, they added.

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Further reading: Airtel, Bharti Airtel, DoT, Telecom
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