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SC allows Bharti Airtel to move TDSAT on 3G ICR issue

Apex court does not impose any bar on offering 3G services to company's existing users in select states

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The Supreme Court, on Monday, has allowed to move the Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) on the 3G intra-circle roaming agreements issue and has said that the tribunal should decide on the case by end of December.

The interim order given by the apex court on the agreements would continue till gives its order.

Earlier, SC has barred the country’s largest telecom operators by subscriber base from adding new customers in seven circles where it offers 3G services under ICR pacts with other telecom operators and does not have required spectrum.

However, the apex court did not impose any bar on offering 3G services to the company’s existing users in Kolkata, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh East and Kerala.

In July this year, the Delhi High Court has transferred the 3G ICR related pleas of Bharti AIrtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular to TDSAT.

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has earlier 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 licenced telecom zones through ICR agreemsnts.

Bharti Airtel, which has more than 6.8 million 3G subscribers, had signed a tripartite intra-circle roaming agreement with Vodafone and Idea Cellular. Under this, an operator could offer 3G services using others’ network in a circle where it did not have spectrum.

Bharti Airtel had earlier said the 3G intra-circle roaming arrangements were in compliance with all regulations and it had provided all relevant details to the authorities.

Bharti, Vodafone and Idea had signed ICR pacts to share 3G spectrum and offer services across each others’ circles. Bharti Airtel has 3G spectrum in 13 circles, Vodafone India has in nine and Idea has in 11 service areas.

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