Department of Telecommunications in India has asked telecom operator Bharti Airtel to stop some of its 3G services. The halt would be applicable for 3G services being offered on regions where the cross carrier roaming pact was adopted. Government has issued a notice to Bharti Airtel asking for explanation of its alleged violation of rules. Bharti Airtel along with Idea Cellular and Vodafone signed an agreement which allowed their customers to use 3G services in areas where any one of the operators hold the bandwidth.
In response, Bharti Airtel has moved to Delhi High Court challenging Government’s order. The company sources stated that they are seeking appropriate legal remedy against the same. Company sources also added that the 3G ICR arrangements are in compliance with the clarification of DoT during the time of 3G spectrum auction. Airtel also informed that the arrangement really benefits the customers and if the service is disallowed in any way, it can cause inconvenience to a huge number of people who currently use 3G services in various circles.
The petition from Bharti Airtel stated DoT’s decision to have violated Article 14, stating it to be arbitrary, illogical, lacked rational basis and to be contrary towards the contract between the parties. In the petition Bharti Airtel commented, “The DoT’s decision is contrary to the national and public interest as the rights of millions of subscribers enjoying the facility of 3G roaming due to the ICR arrangements will be affected.”
The 2010 3G airwaves auction saw Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea getting licenses for 13, 9 and 11 circles respectively. But none of them were given permit to operate in all the 22 circles throughout the country. This led to a pact between three operators to offer 3G services in regions were any one of them held the bandwidth.