Delhi High Court division bench today vacated stay given to Bharti Airtel on 3G Intra-circle roaming facilities. According to our sources now Airtel need to shut down 3G ICR service in 7 circles where it did not have such air waves/3G spectrum in next 3 days.
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.
After the notice by DoT, Bharti Airtel approached the Delhi High Court, seeking a stay on a notice from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) asking the company to stop the 3G mobile and data services in the 7 telecom service areas and imposing a fine of Rs.50 crore per circle.
Now Airtel needs to shut down its 3G mobile services via ICRA in Haryana, Kolkata, Uttar Pradesh East, Maharashtra and Goa, Gujarat, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh & Chattigarh circles.
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.
Similar orders are going to be landed on other partners of Airtel i.e. Vodafone India and Idea Cellular.
The current licence terms and conditions allow operators to go in for Roaming agreements to enable their subscribers to get seamless mobile network coverage as they move from one circle to other circle in India wherein they doesn't have any network/spectrum or services.
But in 3G services, operators like Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular are selling their 3G products and new connections even in circles where they do not have 3G spectrum/license. Operators having 3G spectrum pay higher revenue share in the form of 3G spectrum usage fee.