Telcos ask PM to resolve 3G roaming pact

New Delhi: Chiefs of three leading telecom firms –Bharti, Idea and Vodafone– have sought Prime Minister Manmohan Singh`s intervention to resolve the dispute of 3G roaming pact or else they threatened to surrender spectrum.

In a letter, jointly signed by Sunil Mittal of Bharti Airtel, Kumar Manglam Birla of Idea and Vodafone Group CEO Vittorio Colao, they said, "…in the event that 3G Intra-Circle Roaming (ICR) is now deemed impermissible, then, it would be a clear breach of our contract and the pre-auction confirmation given by the Government."

The three CEOs further said, "In that eventuality, we request that our spectrum auction payments be refunded to us with interest (as) compensation for all the capital investment made by us." The Telecom Ministry and sector regulator Trai have termed the roaming pact among these players as illegal saying this tantamounts to spectrum sharing which is not allowed as per the policy.

In the auction for 3G spectrum, held last year which had fetched over Rs 68,000 crore for the government, the operators had won certain circles. Later, they entered into roaming pacts with each other for circles in which they could not win the bid.

"We seek your most urgent intervention to ensure that contract and promises are honoured, otherwise the reputation of an acclaimed, transparent auction, will be harmed irreparably," the trio said. Besides these players, others like Tatas and Aircel have also entered into similar agreements for various circles.