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TDSAT Clears 3G Intra-circle Roaming Pacts, Quashes Fines On Bharti, Vodafone, Idea

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The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) Tuesday cleared the 3G intra-circle roaming agreements signed between Bharti AirtelBSE 0.27 %, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular, saying the pacts didn’t violate any license conditions.

“We are allowing all the petitions,” said a TDSAT bench headed by Justice Aftab Alam.

TDSAT, in its ruling, also quashed the cumulative penalty of Rs 1,200 crore imposed on the three operators by the telecom department (DoT). The DoT had hauled up Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea CellularBSE 0.96 % for forging 3G service sharing pacts that allowed them to sign up 3G customers even in service areas, or circles, where they did not have permits. DoT had said that three violated 3G license conditions.

Airtel sought access to Vodafone’s 3G network in four service area- Maharashtra, Kolkata, Haryana and UP East.

Vodafone accessed six 3G circles of Airtel- Assam, Bihar, Karnataka, North East, Rajasthan and UP West besides 7 circles of Idea Cellular- Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, UP West and Punjab. Idea is yet to start 3G service in Punjab.

Under the agreement, Idea Cellular secured right to provide 3G service using Vodafone’s network in Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Chennai and Kolkata.

In July 2012, TDSAT gave split verdict where one of the bench member ruled in favour and other member ordered against it.

The DoT slapped penalties of Rs 350 crore on Bharti Airtel, Rs 550 crore on Vodafone and Rs 300 crore on Idea Cellular for providing the 3G facilities outside their licensed telecom zones through the ICR agreements.

Telecom operators-Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular then approached Delhi High Court which ruled in favour of DoT’s decision to hold the 3G roaming pact of the telecom major as illegal.

Telecom operators then moved the Supreme Court against order of HC and sought that the case be transferred to TDSAT. The Apex court allowed telecom operators to move their case to TDSAT in September 2013.

TDSAT had recognised the stand of telecom operators on the basis of which they made aggressive bids for 3G spectrum. Original post at The Economic Times

Wahengbam Rorrkychand

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Website: http://www.blog.tonsetelecom.com

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