India’s leading GSM Mobile operators Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular have issued a joint announcement stating that they will continue to provide 3G along with data services on a pan-India level, even in non 3G circles through ICRA.
The announcement comes after the two-member bench of the Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) had given a split verdict on the legality of telecom operators offering 3G services beyond their licensed zones via a mutual pact. The telecom companies are now taking ahead this dispute to the Supreme Court.
An interpretation of the ruling could be that, the prior verdict that temporarily restrained the government from banning 3G roaming would be effective, although a source from the telecoms department (DoT) disputes this thought commenting that the ruling cannot be interpreted as a ‘continuation of status quo’. However, Senior Advocate Gopal Jain, who represents the telecos said that the ruling is not an enforceable order as neither side has lost the case. So, the status quo continues till the SC issues final and enforceable order
The two-member bench consisted of TDSAT Chairman, Justice SB Sinha and member PK Rastogi. The former had ruled in the favour of the GSM operators and ordered the DoT to start the procedure afresh, so as to give the telecos adequate time to prepare and respond. While the latter said, “the mobile operators like Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular) could not provide Intra circle 3G roaming services as they were not allowed to provide 3G services with 2G licences and spectrum.”