The Department of Telecom has moved the Supreme Court challenging TDSAT’s order allowing Airtel, Idea and Vodafone to offer 3G services under a roaming arrangement in areas where not all of them own 3G spectrum. Also Read - Let our firms take part in 5G trials, China tells India
Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal had overturned a government ban on offering 3G mobile services beyond their licenced zones through roaming pacts, saying that it was in national interest to allow better utilization of scarce radio frequency. Challenging the order, the Centre submitted that “the tribunal has erroneously held that the intra-circle 3G roaming arrangement does not violate any provision of the UAS licence held by the respondents and it is not open to the government to prohibit the respondents from carrying out the services in terms of the agreements”. Also Read - WhatsApp Privacy Update: WhatsApp asked by SC reasons for lower standards of privacy for Indians
TDSAT verdict had brought relief to the three operators – Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular – who 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 had won 3G spectrum in 13 out of 22 telecom service areas for Rs 12,295.46, Vodafone in 9 for Rs 11,617.86 and Idea Cellular in 11 circles for Rs 5,768.59 crore. Also Read - BSNL Rs 199 prepaid plan introduced: Know benefits, validity and more details
DoT had issued notices to Airtel, Vodafone and Idea on December 23, 2011 asking them to stop 3G ICR within 24 hours and report compliance but the order was challenged by them. Tata Teleservices and Aircel too had signed 3G ICR but immediately called off their agreement after DoT issued notice to them.
Following the TDSAT judgement, Airtel, Vodafone and Idea have extended service under their 3G ICR at pan-India level except Odisha. Reliance Communications also entered in similar agreement with Tata Teleservices to provide 3G services in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and UP-East telecom circles.