Delhi High Court Dismissed Bharti Airtel’s 3G Intra-Circle Roaming Petition

The Delhi High Court today dismissed a petition filed by Bharti Airtel in the 3G intra-circle Roaming (ICR) matter and refuse to grant further dates to Airtel on 3G Roaming. However HC gives granted it liberty to pursue the matter further with the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT).

Airtel Moves Delhi High Court Against DoT Notice to Stop 3G Roaming

Earlier Airtel’s petition was premised on the basis that on the date of the filing, TDSAT was not functioning, leaving the company with no “alternative effective remedy.  Now  TDSAT is “admittedly functional” these days so apex court granted it liberty to pursue the matter further with the TDSAT.

On December 23, 2011, the department of telecommunications (DoT) had sent notices to firms, including Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular, asking them to stop their “illegal” 3G roaming pacts with immediate effect.

In August, 2012, The Law Ministry had given its nod to the Department of Telecom (DoT for taking action against telcos that have been offering 3G services in service areas where they were not allotted 3G spectrum via Intra-circle roaming agreements.

In a long-running dispute, the telecom ministry had said such ICR pacts to offer 3G services by Airtel, Vodafone and Idea were illegal and ordered Bharti Airtel to pay a penalty of Rs 350 crore and also asked Airtel to immediately stop 3G services in zones where it does not have its own airwaves and is providing the premium services through pacts with other carriers.

In April ,2013 the Court had passed an order restricting  Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular  from enrolling any new 3G customers in circles where they did not have the licences to offer 3G services. However, the apex court had allowed the companies to offer 3G services to existing customers through ICR pacts till the final judgment.

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  • Akhil Mohan September 22, 2013 7:11 pm

    I have a doubt. Airtel and Vodafone don’t have license in Kerala circle. Both of them were using Idea’s network. But after the court order Airtel stopped 3G in Kerala but vodafone is still providing 3G. Why is that?

  • Rama September 14, 2013 6:42 pm

    Bsnl plans are still really competitive i mean upon paying for two years of broadband fees on advance you a third year entirely free of cost and bsnl still provides 1gb broadband plans,does airtel provide any such kind of plans and airtel simply cheats its customers i mean even i had applied for an airtel broadband conncetion and the airtel guy came to my house took a 1000rs and never came back never picked up my calls and never gave me a connection nor refunded my money and this has been the case with several ppl

  • Rama September 14, 2013 6:26 pm

    bsnl has a monopoly in the broadband market simply because they are ready to give a broadband connection in many sub urban and rural areas where other providers are not giving a connection even i had applied for an airtel broadband connection but the airtel guy came to my house took a 1000rs said that he would give me a connection but never came back nor did he take up my calls and niether did he give me my 1000rs back and as far as i know i am not the only one affected by this several ppl are cheated in the similar manner by airtel broadband and as far as bsnls broadband service is concerned they are very satisfactory for me atleast in that area

  • Rama September 14, 2013 2:51 pm

    @Saurabh
    A PSU is required in every sector so that the commodity or the service of the sector is not confined to a group of people if there are no government schools then education would be confined only to the rich as private schools have a high fee structure and this would leave a large part of the country uneducated similarly BSNL is a psu in the telecom sector so that the services of the telecom sector are available to everyone

    • Saurabh September 14, 2013 5:19 pm

      What, when a PSU starts talking benefit of the monopoly? BSNL has monopoly in broadband sector and they don’t offer competitive plans at all. Isn’t this taking benefit of being the only operator to have license for wired broadband?

      <<>> Give me break. There are hundreds of places where others have their services and not BSNL. They just keep and waste the spectrum and nothing else.

      Even in the mobile services they are not the one who start competition. They always follow private telecom operators. In the last three years when pvt operators were offering services at dirt cheap prices, BSNL kept the tariffs costly and also booster packs were also double the cost of pvt operators. BSNL is not at all here to keep prices in check or to break cartels. They are costlier than others and their service quality sucks big time.

      As far as Govt schools are concerned, we all know what kind of education is being provided and children have to sit in open or in buildings which no one knows when it will collapse. Primary education is not just enough. And all these schools are being run on taxpayers money yet the children for whom a taxpayer gives money fails to get his right of proper education. When you go out for a job, if education is being taken from a prestigious school or college, you are being welcomed but if name of a Govt school or college is on your certificates, doors get closed as even they know that the person will lack many things. PSU are just here to waste taxpayers money and nothing else. These are not private telecom who get benefited from the tax paid by us yet they offer quality that are up-to satisfaction levels.

      • Rama September 14, 2013 6:41 pm

        Bsnl plans are still really competitive i mean upon paying for two years of broadband fees on advance you a third year entirely free of cost and bsnl still provides 1gb broadband plans,does airtel provide any such kind of plans and airtel simply cheats its customers i mean even i had applied for an airtel broadband conncetion and the airtel guy came to my house took a 1000rs and never came back never picked up my calls and never gave me a connection nor refunded my money and this has been the case with several ppl

  • Vineet Singh September 14, 2013 12:56 pm

    I was using Idea 3G on Vodafone network in Delhi Circle till feb 2013 but after that Idea stopped my 3G, so i bought an Airtel sim to use 3G services. Now am use Idea for voice calls & Airtel for 3G, if govt allow ICRA its good for user to not carry two phone & use there favorite network operator…like me. !dea network is best in delhi just provide 3G too.

    • Rahul September 14, 2013 1:30 pm

      @Vineet,

      you are right bro, Idea services is best in delhi i am using my idea delhi number from past 10years but they dont provide me 3g network and 2g edge is not working for me.
      They must allow ICRA to all operators otherwise all customers of idea & aircel in delhi circle port out to costly airtel network.

  • SS September 14, 2013 12:42 pm

    Every night, and sometimes day, i get lots of trouble in calling bsnl numbers in UP EAST and (punjab also, as tested by my friend). When i call with my airtel delhi connection, i get recorded message from airtel- “the network you are trying to call is currently busy, pls try later”. Sometimes it takes irritating lot of time. Dont have any idea why BSNL networks are so busy.

    But BSNL, is lot better than uninor. It is almost impossible to call, since you always get recorded message- “All channels are busy”. Uninor must seriously look into this problem.

    So anyone facing similar network problem?

    • Duane Anthony Bayliss September 15, 2013 6:07 pm

      @ SS BSNL networks are *known* for their lack of infrastructure: be it delays in tender approvals or just shortage of overall capacity, this is an old issue which exists almost everywhere (in peak hours). The problem is *further* aggrevated by the pvt players, who (intentionally) keep lesser (than required) channels in the POI (Point of Interconnect) between BSNL and their network – all said and done, this just contributes to one clogged/congested network!

      >> Dont have any idea why BSNL networks are so busy.

    • Duane Anthony Bayliss September 15, 2013 6:09 pm

      UNINOR is an “on-net” player: their schemes are designed as such, which give offer (to share an exaple from AP) : 42000 OFFNET and 120000 ON-NET seconds: net result, customers keep TWO SIMS (both Uninor) and enjoy the (almost) free services of U2U calling!

  • Abrar September 13, 2013 8:04 pm

    This is a serious issue facing telecom industry as well as the customers. Most of the customers are left in the lurch with 2G signal and don’t have the option to use 3G services unless they port their numbers to other operators. Also their are large number of customers who have been accustomed to a particular operator for different reasons and didn’t want to port.
    Also the operators face the threat of migration and loss of loyal customers which is not even in their interest. Moreover this could also lead to monopolistic situation in certain circles.
    Therefore the government must devise a policy which is in the interest of the public and not the one to just fill up their coffers.

    • Rama September 13, 2013 8:47 pm

      The government is ready to give pan india 3G spectrum to operators (BSNL has it) but the operators are not willing to pay that much.

      • Saurabh September 14, 2013 10:57 am

        @Rama,

        Are you really aware of the situation related to 3G license or not? For BSNL, licenses for every circle was kept reserved i.e why they have Pan-India licenses. they didn;t participated in the 3G auctions and were given spectrum 2 years before auction took place even then they lag behind private operators who have license in lesser number of circles. If they were asked to participate in the auction I don’t think they have had got license for 3-4 circles as private operators have had outbid them. As a PSU, BSNL got the benefit of having a one slot every circle reserved except Delhi & Mumbai where license was reserved for another PSU MTNL. Beside this only 3 licenses were put on auction in most circles for 9 operators. If you have something called brain, tell me how can 8-9 operators go Pan-India with just 3 slots? BSNL was benefited only because of the reserved slot and they paid the same amount like other 3 did but some people keep on shouting that BSNL paid more than others and ICRA should not be allowed as it will affect BSNL revenues and blah blah blah.

        If Govt really want to stop ICRA, they will have to put 3-4 more licenses on auction so that everyone can have their own. If they can’t, they have to allow. Having only 1 roti for 3 people and then stopping them from sharing will keep other 2 hungry and they will die as customers will port to ones having licenses. It is also a problem for customers who want to stay with the network but only for 3G they have to leave.

        The data files available on DoT website tells that every operator had bid for every circle but when price went beyond their budget, they stopped bidding. The final price for Haryana circle where Idea, Tata and Vodafone got licenses was Rs.222 crores and data shows that Airtel bid the last 220.6 crores, Reliance left on Rs.217.4 crores, Aircel left on 215.6 crores. So everybody tried but what to do when you have limited slots. Only 3 were to come as winners ans others have to leave.

        If say AVoID had outbid every other operator on Pan-India basis for 3 license, customers of Aircel, Reliance, Tata were to suffer. Now at-least, all of them have license in this or that circle.

        • Md Rajaul September 14, 2013 11:43 am

          What do you mean by “I don’t think they have had got license for 3-4 circles as private operators have had outbid them”.Do you think that BSNL has got that pan India licenses free of cost,no,but they have forced to give highest bid price.
          AND ONE QUESTION,WHY bsnl had been not given 2G license for 8 years after alloting 2G license to private operators.Do you know that Vodafone got license much before BSNL(8 yers before).
          Also BSNL’s tender for procurement of GSM lines were canceled by Government many times,so that BSNL can’t expand their network ( benefitting private operaters gy Government).If BSNL were not blocked by above stated doings then no private operator were capable of withstanding against BSNL.

          • Saurabh September 14, 2013 1:07 pm

            @Md Rajaul,

            When I said they got the license for free? I’m emphasizing more on the fact that reserving slot for an operator just because it is run by Govt was an unfair practice. Also, giving them license and spectrum well before private operators also benefited them and they didn’t paid anything for 2 years until price was discovered. Was that fair also? As a PSU BSNL get so many sops from Govt which private operators don’t. You said BSNL got license 8 years after private operators i.e in 2002 but how many customers these operators had at that time. It was only 2003-2005 when India got mobile telephony in real sense. If they were given license 8 years after, their licenses are valid for more time. BSNL got license at a time when telecom sector started flourishing i.e 2002-03 and between 1995-2002, there was very little adoption. After BSNL entered, Govt just open the doors for handset makers, gear makers and before that pvt operators have had to struggle with that with higher duties. While pvt operators actually earned for 12 years only from their licenses in many circles, BSNL average comes at 17.3 years. Will you settle the amount for rest years?

            I think pvt operators should have resisted the move of DoT to allow BSNL a head start of 3G services before auction. But in the hope of making more and readying infrastructure well before others they allowed it which was a shameless move. But at last what happens is same BSNL is unable to race with those who started 2-3 years after them. Airtel with license in only 13 circles can beat BSNL with license in 20 circles.

            Don’t forget the fact that BSNL has paid Rs.10120 crores while rest around Rs.6500 crore is paid by MTNL and both are different entities.

            Now DoT is allowing BSNL to return BWA spectrum and get the amount refunded but when same was asked by private operators they just put it aside by saying, they will not get refund. This is the first time someone has used forced to pay the highest price? What do you mean by “forced to bid the highest price?” BSNL has also paid the price for a circle like other does. There was no concept of the lowest or the highest price. Everybody paid the same for each circle. For e.g- Idea, Tata and Vodafone has paid Rs.222 crore for Haryana and so does BSNL. So where the hell BSNL paid extra amount for a circle? The price were increased or shoot up looking at the demand and private operators were also forced to match the increased amount per round.

            Even in 900Mhz band they were allotted 6.2 MHz on Pan-India basis and didn’t made payment for 4 years. Is this a fair play? If India is a open-market then there should be transparency and there should be nothing like reserving slots. If you want to play it fair, everyone should participate either a PSU or Private company. But we have different set of rules for both.

            If Govt thinks that allowing ICRA will affect BSNL revenues which I don’t think then they should put more spectrum on auction and after that real picture will come when 85-90% of the customers will be using 3G of private operators.

            I don’t understand why people say that BSNL will lose with ICRA? If BSNL has the guts to compete they can attract more and more users to their network. But they fear competition and know that the quality of services they provide will not help them at all. Beside this BSNL can also lease the network to needy but the thing is who will want to share crap network of BSNL? They aren;t able to provide good service to their own customers. Forget about others.

            As far as your these lines goes, “BSNL’s tender for procurement of GSM lines were canceled by Government many times”. Who is responsible for that. Neither me nor you or pvt operators. Nobody has asked them not to procure equipment.

            I know pvt operators like Airtel, Vodafone, Idea got license in 1995 but they had only few circles in their kitty and also customers bases were not like they are now. Check the number of customers of pvt operators between 1995-2002 and you will know who got benefited. BSNL entered at a good time and reaped well and also has license valid till 2022. They have or will spend more time almost 8 years in mature market.

        • Rama September 14, 2013 2:05 pm

          Thats what even i have said in my comment that operators dont have pan india 3G licence because they were not willing to bid such a high amount and there is nothing wrong in reservation of slot for bsnl after all its a psu and thats how every government owned body in india works……. i mean u have government schools with a lower fee structure than private schools to help the poor study so will you call that unfair….. and similarly bsnl has pan india 3G spectrum reserved so that 3G can be accesible by the poor….. just think about a situation where bsnl had to participate with other operators in the 3G spectrum auction and as you have said bsnl would not have won licences in more than 3 or 4 circles and then avoid with their illegal icra and each operator of avoid having licence in 5 to 8 circles of their own would have provided 3G at sky high prices and would have never reduced them and the growth of 3G would be slow as bsnl in this situation would not be a threat and at that time analysts like SAURABH would have blamed our government for the slow growth of 3G……. but today since bsnl have pan india 3G licence and are providing 1GB 3g data at 124rs are other private operators considering a reduction in 3G packs as is seen……so before commenting look at both sides…..

          • Saurabh September 14, 2013 5:32 pm

            similarly bsnl has pan india 3G spectrum reserved so that 3G can be accesible by the poor

            Was it a joke thrown on poor’s face? I mean a person who is struggling to get food will use 3G. Are you out of your mind? Is BSNL offering free 3G to poors just like schools don’t charge fee to economical backwards. or Govt has started a plan wherein they are offering free 3G mobiles and dongles and charging only Rs.10 for 2 GB data?

            Btw do you really feel it’s the BSNL which helps in bringing down prices in the market? Until 2012, they didn;t reduced a single paisa in their plans and kept it same like 2009. They were offering 1GB at Rs.450 and when pvt operators brought down to Rs.240-250 in 2012, they made it Rs.225. now when pvt operators were offering 1GB at Rs.150-175 via best offers since 1 years or even via trial packs, BSNL suddenly came and made it Rs.139 and also took off 2G packs. They don;t have 3G services at 90% of the places in North zone and people using BSNL are going through a price hike as they are paying for 3G and have only 2G network. From which angle do you think BSNL is helping in bringing prices down? If there are no private operators BSNL will continue to offer costly plans like they do in wired broadband.

            Even after paying Rs.139, you will have to stay with poorest of the quality on BSNL. Then it’s better to pay 200 and get better services. Airtel since jan is offering 3G @165 in many circles.

            • Rama September 14, 2013 6:12 pm

              I know its not bsnl who was the first to bring the prices down but hey if bsnl is not there, no other operator can challenge the avoid i mean aircel started offering 3G services at cheaper prices way ahead than bsnl but did avoid respond to it no because they knew that aircel simply would not be able to survive and even reliance is not giving full 1gb at 2g price so the avoid really dint bother but when bsnl announced a drop in 3G the avoid group started testing these reduced prices with a few customers and even though bsnls service is in a very bad state they are improving it in south india u can find in the comments section of recent tt posts that bsnl has improved its services in kerala and banglore

              • Saurabh September 14, 2013 11:16 pm

                Then it should be done that BSNL’s licenses in North, East and Western India should be cancelled out. I know they provide somewhat good services in South but India as a whole exists in many zones. So BSNL should be made a regional operator which i already is. They don’t care about North circle where their services suck. Even if they start providing quality services people will hesitate going to BSNL as many have already gone thorough worst experience of their lives with BSNL. If anyone here goes for BSNL these days they wait for 91st day so that they can port out. Even MNP figure shows BSNL as a chiest loser in Northern circles. So this shameless PSU should keep emphasizing on South India.

              • Rama September 15, 2013 7:22 am

                @Saurabh
                Just two or three months ago a post on tt had come where bsnl was saying about tenders being passed for the expansion of their network who knows they have started it from south india and by next two or three years will have the expansion work on a pan india basis but then again time will only tell us

              • Akhil Mohan September 15, 2013 10:16 pm

                I am from Kerala.
                BSNL services were good here.
                I was using their 303 plan(8GB earlier then 6GB) for quite a while. though their 2G speeds were pathetic(2KB max) i still used them because if i set the phone to 3G network on 2G plans i was getting 256Kbps which was good.
                But then they lifted 2G plans. Initially I was happy because i got around 5.5 GB balance on my 2G plan and I was getting speeds upto 3Mbps Initially. The 139 plan (1 GB) also seemed good value for money.

                But now speeds are pathetic. Forget the speeds the connection is not there. I mean the phone connects but then nothing happens no data is transferred. I think its because ping is very high….
                This has happened because BSNL is providing 3G network to everyone but they dont have the resources..

                So people who tell BSNL is good in south is not telling truth.

              • Arul Ruban.S September 15, 2013 11:38 pm

                I used BSNL 3G connection in TN getting min 3 Mbps speed. Useless Airtel cheats me , i lost more. BSNL provides best service and my friends also switch over-ed from AVOID group. It is better to AVOID, AVOID group for save money.

        • Rama September 14, 2013 2:06 pm

          @Saurabh
          Thats what even i have said in my comment that operators dont have pan india 3G licence because they were not willing to bid such a high amount and there is nothing wrong in reservation of slot for bsnl after all its a psu and thats how every government owned body in india works……. i mean u have government schools with a lower fee structure than private schools to help the poor study so will you call that unfair….. and similarly bsnl has pan india 3G spectrum reserved so that 3G can be accesible by the poor….. just think about a situation where bsnl had to participate with other operators in the 3G spectrum auction and as you have said bsnl would not have won licences in more than 3 or 4 circles and then avoid with their illegal icra and each operator of avoid having licence in 5 to 8 circles of their own would have provided 3G at sky high prices and would have never reduced them and the growth of 3G would be slow as bsnl in this situation would not be a threat and at that time analysts like SAURABH would have blamed our government for the slow growth of 3G……. but today since bsnl have pan india 3G licence and are providing 1GB 3g data at 124rs are other private operators considering a reduction in 3G packs as is seen……so before commenting look at both sides…..

      • siva chennai September 14, 2013 12:32 pm

        +1

    • guru September 13, 2013 10:40 pm

      icra is illegal it must be stopped!
      what about pan india operators if these people share network freely!

  • sharafudheen September 13, 2013 6:14 pm

    BSNL 3G massive expansion process continues in kerala . They are enabling 3G in rural towers at fast rate with 7.2 Mbps and 14.4 Mbps speeds. Many Towers in Malappuram district are 3G now.

  • spiderman September 13, 2013 5:21 pm

    I activated 3G on my Vodafone numbers in KA & KL circles (Vodafone doesn’t have valid License in these two circles). So I was an existing customer right ? Then why am not able to register in 3G modes if apex court had allowed ICRA for existing customers.

    Any existing users able to make use of ICRA now??

    • Fahad September 13, 2013 9:18 pm

      Hi.. I am using airtel kerala sim.. I activated 3g earlier and i am able to use 3g signals as well as 3g data in kerala circle.. Airtel doesnt have spectrum in kerala.

    • guru September 13, 2013 10:42 pm

      all existing 3g customers dont need to worry they can stay in their own networks!
      this rule is only for new customers since the court verdict

      • gaurav September 13, 2013 11:11 pm

        I’m existing user of airtel haryana. i was using 3G on my number from 2011. But after court orders 3g on my number was stopped. Still i’m unable to use 3G on my airtel number. I had made call to customer care but didn’t find any solution. Is there any sol? Now i’m using Vodafone 3G

        • Saurabh September 14, 2013 10:42 am

          @gaurav,

          I’m also from Haryana and still able to latch on Idea 3G network with Airtel SIM and can use any 3G pack which was available before court order. I have to ask you one thing that was 3G zero rental pack active on your number or you used to directly recharge with the amount to use 3G? Only those are getting signals who has zero rental or PAYG (Pay As You Go 3p/10KB plan active). I’ve 3 Airtel SIMs and on one of them I de-activated the 3p/10KB plan, so not able to latch with it but with other two I can still latch and use 3G network. You can’t activate it now as SMS to 121 says, “3G not available in your circle. If you are already a 3G customer contact retailer”. Same message on *121*11#. So irony is if you don;t had 3p/10KB plan you can’t get 3G again.

          • gaurav September 15, 2013 12:05 am

            @saurabh i had subscribed 3g data pack before 3G deactivation on my number. Then i used the remaining 3G data on edge network.

      • Shahab PTP September 14, 2013 9:37 am

        If you dont activate 3g for continous 90 days then you cant activate 3g packs again. Company will treat as new customer :P

    • Saurabh September 14, 2013 10:34 am

      @spiderman, Vodafone don’t allow latching on 3G network if 3G pack is not activated. If you want to latch on 3G network of Airtel/Idea, activate 3G pack first. You can activate zero rental or PAYG (Pay As You Go) by sending SMS 3G to 121. If you get error or PAYG don;t get activate recharge with smallest 3G pack and you will start getting network.

      • spiderman September 14, 2013 8:38 pm

        @Saurab
        ACT 3G to 144 (Reply – > Service could not be activated)
        3G Recharges Fails via USSD, Online

        • gaurav September 15, 2013 12:11 am

          @spideman ACT PAYG3G TO 144 (PREPAID)

          • spiderman September 16, 2013 12:20 pm

            ACT PAYG3G TO 144 Reply – > Service could not be activated

  • abhay jaipur September 13, 2013 4:29 pm

    airtel is greedy,even recharging with stv 39 for 40 paisa cal rate,it charge 78 paisa for first 60 seconds of the day…

    • guru September 13, 2013 10:46 pm

      in karnataka they charge 2ps per sec for 1st two mins daily on 37 rate cutter for 1.2ps/2sec

  • Sudharsan September 13, 2013 3:57 pm

    The network how make money out of no reason from public

  • Shafeeque September 13, 2013 3:57 pm

    I am an Airtel subscriber in Kerala. I still have 3G on Airtel. Does this mean Airtel have to stop providing 3G service to existing customers in Kerala?

    • Rama September 13, 2013 4:59 pm

      Maybe because airtel mostly does not have licence to 3G spectrum in kerala

  • pacman September 13, 2013 3:43 pm

    i need vodafone in up west Uttrakhand :(

  • Kishan September 13, 2013 3:27 pm

    Anyone can know ??
    when airtel 3G will back in Gujarat ?
    &
    &
    Aircel service start again for new customers in Gujarat circle ???

    • guru September 13, 2013 10:43 pm

      it wont unless the take 3g spectrum!