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Offering VPN services — DoT issues show-cause to AT&T, MCI, Equant

Our Bureau

New Delhi , Aug. 31

THE Department of Telecom has issued show cause notice to overseas telecom carriers AT&T and MCI Worldcom and Equant for allegedly providing end-to-end managed data services without approval. DoT has asked the companies to immediately stop the services.

DoT sources said that the three companies were providing Virtual Private Network services without having proper licence under the Indian Telegraph Act. Recently, DoT had asked Internet Service Providers to pay an entry fee ranging from Rs 1 crore to Rs 10 crore and an annual licence fee of 8 per cent of the revenues for offering VPN services.

VPN services are used to network large corporate houses, retail chains and offices in remote locations.

The entry fee was imposed to create a level playing field with long distance players.

DoT has asked the multinational operators to stop offering VPN, as they did not have the required licence. The companies have been given 15 days to respond to the notice.

In a joint statement, AT&T and its Indian partner VSNL said, "AT&T does not agree that it has in any way violated the provisions of the Act in providing end-to-end managed data services and does not agree that such services are without the appropriate licence or authority from the Indian government. AT&T has filed an appropriate response with the DoT to bring out that the contents of the notice are not based on the complete set of facts. The Indian segment of these worldwide managed data services of AT&T are being provided by VSNL in India, with AT&T providing global network support and services."

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