IDA fines Consistel S$300,000 for licence breach in 'unprecedented' action

IDA fines Consistel S$300,000 for licence breach in 'unprecedented' action

A police report has also been made against Consistel for providing misleading information and documents, says the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore.

Sportshub evening sky stock photo

SINGAPORE: The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) said on Monday (Aug 15) it has fined Consistel S$300,000 for breach of licence obligations in an "unprecedented" enforcement decision.

IDA has also made a police report on Monday, after it found that Consistel had provided misleading information and documents to IDA in Jun 2014.

Consistel is licensed by IDA to build, operate and maintain distributed antenna systems inside buildings, one of which is the system in the Singapore Sports Hub. Under the terms of its telecommunications licence, Consistel is required to seek IDA's approval before transferring the Sports Hub system to a third party. It had applied to IDA for permission to transfer its licence in June 2014, and received in-principle approval to do so in May 2015.

Consistel transferred the system to Consistel Sprint, which is owned by Consistel's parent company and another business partner, Asia Networks. "Certain directors from Consistel Sprint" had alerted IDA of the incident, the regulator revealed.

IDA was then informed in January 2016 that Consistel had provided misleading information. The authority was also informed that Consistel had entered an agreement to transfer ownership of the Sports Hub system even before IDA's approval was given.

The company was found to have breached two of its licence obligations: It failed to seek IDA's prior written approval before entering into the agreement to transfer the system, and it had failed to provide IDA with true, accurate and complete documents and information.

"GRAVE MISCONDUCT"

IDA's director-general (Telecoms and Post) Aileen Chia explained in a press briefing that it is a "very serious" offence to provide false information to public servants, which was why a police report was made to see if further action is needed.

"IDA takes the position that Consistel's actions constitute grave misconduct by a licensee," said IDA. "In fact, this is the most serious instance of misconduct that has been brought to IDA's attention thus far."

As such, the in-principle approval for Consistel to transfer its licence to Consistel Sprint has been voided and it remains responsible for the distributed antenna system at the Singapore Sports Hub, Ms Chia said, but did not rule out that future applications to transfer the licence will be approved so long as the process is adhered.

Under the Telecommunications Act, Consistel has two avenues of recourse which it may seek within 14 days of receipt of IDA's enforcement decision. The company could request that IDA reconsider its enforcement decision, or lodge an appeal with the minister.

Ms Chia said that the regulator will reconsider its enforcement decision only if there are new reasons or information submitted by the company. "If not, this is it," she said.

As for whether this enforcement decision will play a part in deciding if Consistel remains a viable candidate to be the country's fourth telco, she said IDA will take into account all of its enforcement actions when evaluating a candidate's application during the pre-qualification stage of the bid.

Channel NewsAsia has reached out to Consistel for comment.

Source: CNA/av

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