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3G roaming: Govt may contest TDSAT’s telco-friendly order

‘Efforts are being made to challenge the said order in Supreme Court,’ Prasad said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha.

He was replying to a question if TDSAT has granted permission to certain top mobile operators to continue with 3G intra-circle roaming (ICR) pact and provide roaming services to their customers.

The minister said that TDSAT in its judgement on 29 April in two sets of petitions, one involving Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular, Aircel and Tata Teleservices and other involving Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular held the 3G ICR arrangement does not violate any provision of their permits.

The judgement of Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal overturned government's ban on offering 3G mobile services beyond their licensed zones through roaming pacts.

‘The tribunal also quashed all the orders passed by the DoT to impose penalties,’ Prasad said.

The judgement brought relief to three operators, Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular, which jointly faced a penalty of Rs 1,200 crore for entering into pacts with each other to offer 3G services in regions where they did not win spectrum in the 2010 auction. Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular won 3G spectrum in 2010 auction. Airtel won 3G spectrum in 13 out of 22 telecom service area for Rs 12,295.46, Vodafone in nine circles for Rs 11,617.86 and Idea Cellular in 11 circles for
Rs 5,768.59 crore.

DoT issued notice to Airtel, Vodafone and Idea on 23 December, 2011 asking companies to stop 3G ICR within 24 hours and report compliance but the order was challenged by telecom operators. Tata Teleservices and Aircel too had signed 3G ICR but immediately called off their agreement after DoT issued notice to them. Following the TDSAT judgment the Airtel, Vodafone and Idea have extended service under their 3G ICR at pan-India level except Odisha.
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