Telcos challenge DoT on 3G roaming, move to TDSAT
Acting swiftly on receipt of notices from the Telecom Ministry, the operators moved telecom tribunal TDSAT, which will hold a special hearing on Saturday on the issue. The tribunal will close for winter vacation from next week.
The matter would be placed before a two-member bench of the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT).
Today, the Department of Telecom (DoT) issued notices to the telecom firms directing them to stop their 3G roaming agreements with immediate effect as the pacts are illegal and has sought their response within 24 hours.
DoT has asked them to reply by 3 pm on Saturday.
Yesterday, Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal had ruled that such roaming agreements are in violation of licence norms and the operators cannot be allowed to offer services like this.
The decision comes after the unanimous view of telecom regulator Trai, Law Ministry and DoT that such roaming agreement was in violation of the telecom licences.
Leading operators like Bharti, Vodafone and Idea had entered into agreement with one another to offer 3G mobile services in circles in which they could not succeed in getting spectrum in the auction held last year.
Similar notices have also been issued to Tata Teleservices and Aircel, which had also entered into similar agreements to offer services in six circles. However, the two operators have already discontinued the arrangement.
Even the sector regulator Trai had termed the existing agreement among operators for offering pan-India 3G services, despite not having spectrum in all the circles, as violation of licence norms, a charge rejected by the industry.