December 25, 2011

DoT Rules 3G Roaming Illegal

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has asked mobile operators to stop providing 3G roaming services or risk the termination of their roaming agreements. The telecom regulatory body has stated that this is in violation of licence norms. Mobile operators are definitely going to feel the pinch of this new ruling because they stand to lose a lot of revenue.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had earlier made similar inference following which, the Law Ministry, Communications, and IT Minister Kapil Sibal had asked Telecom Secretary R Chandrasekhar to notify all 3G operators operating in this "illegal" manner about the diktat. The DoT plans to penalise operators not abiding by this new ruling.

Earlier this year, no one operator was able to bag a pan-India 3G licence. Therefore, they had no choice but to enter into roaming agreements with each other to provide the service across the country. Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Essar, and Idea Cellular entered into such a roaming agreement, while Tata Teleservices and Aircel, who had initially agreed to such an arrangement, later terminated it.

The DoT received complaints regarding the illegal nature of such agreements. After seeking legal opinion, it decided to issue notices to these firms to terminate these agreements immediately, failing which they are liable to face legal action. The three operators to whom the notices have been served have written to the PM demanding refund of the spectrum auction payment if 3G roaming is not allowed.

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