DoT Moves SC Challenging TDSAT's Intra-Circle Roaming Order

DoT Moves SC Challenging TDSAT's Intra-Circle Roaming Order

The Department of Telecom (DoT) 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.

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 utilisation 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".

TDSAT verdict had brought relief to the 3 operators - Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular - which 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.

(Also Read: Vodafone India Requests Immediate Allotment of 1800MHz Spectrum)

Airtel had won 3G spectrum in 13 out of 22 telecom service areas for Rs. 12,295.46 crores, Vodafone in 9 for Rs. 11,617.86 crores and Idea Cellular in 11 circles for Rs. 5,768.59 crores.

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.

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Further reading: Dot, Airtel, Supreme Court, TDSAT, Telecom
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