3G roaming: Govt, telecom operators face-to-face

New Delhi: The Indian government and three major telecom operators are poised for a face-off, as the telecom ministry declared their 3G roaming services as illegal prompting the angry service providers to move TDSAT.

Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea had entered into an agreement to offer intra-circle roaming for the premium 3G services, even as these operators did not have specified spectrum pan-India.

"… It has been concluded that provision of the services by you (operators) which are presently available by virtue of 3G spectrum in 2.1 GHz band only, to your customers through the above mentioned intra service area roaming arrangements is not permissible," DoT notices said.

Reacting to the development, Bharti Airtel said, "We are shocked at the arbitrary decision taken by the DoT to issue instructions to stop intra circle roaming (ICR) for 3G services among the telecom operators."

This is "demoralising" to note that the decision has been arrived at without providing any opportunity of hearing to industry players.

Simultaneously, the three operators also moved telecom tribunal TDSAT challenging the government`s decision. TDSAT, which is closed from tomorrow for winter vacation, will hold a special hearing Saturday.

The telecom ministry had also claimed that such an agreement would dent revenue generation for the government by way of losing on revenue usage charges.