Tuesday, January 01, 2008

India - vigilance against illegal operations

DoT puts AT&T on notice for illegal services

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has issued a showcause notice to telecom company AT&T asking it to explain as to why action should not be taken against it for operating "licenced services illegally".

The licenser has accused AT&T of provisioning "illegal and unauthorised" virtual private networks (VPNs) - a network that uses public telecommunication infrastructure such as the internet to provide access to organisations. DoT has also accused the company of misusing international private leased circuits (IPLC) - a dedicated communication line used by corporates.

"It is found from the data available and from your representative that AT&T is operating VPN provisioning service in India to customers spanning across several countries.. It is clear that those circuits were built and running since 2004," DoT said in the showcause notice issued on December 5, 2007.

The notice also mentioned that these were unauthorised, as AT&T begun providing international long distance (ILD) services on October 9, 2006.

"Such operations inflict monetary loss to the Government of India, as they are posing a grave threat to the security of the nation. Explain why action should not be initiated against you for operating the licensed services illegally," the notice issued by Vigilance Telecom Monitoring (VTM) cell of DoT said.

When contacted, the AT&T executive in India said, "All we can say is that we have given an appropiate answer to the showcause already. It is a matter of routine checking and has also been sent to other operators."

This is the second showcause issued by DoT in a month. Earlier DoT had pulled up GSM operator Bharti Airtel, alleging it of setting up illegal internet and telephony equipment in Chennai (Business Standard reported).

Similar to the AT&T notice, it also stated that this �may have security implications, apart from revenue losses to the Government of India�.

On its part, Bharti Airtel denied 'violations of any nature' and also stated it had submitted a written response to the DoT's vigilance telecom monitoring (VTM) cell.

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