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DoT seeks Law Min views on 3G roaming agreement

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Department of Telecom (DoT )has sought views of the Law Ministry whether the mobile operators who bought 3G spectrum in government auction are circumventing their licensing conditions by leasing out the advance radio waves among themselves.

"Legal Advisor (Telecom) may also offer his views on the legal appropriation on the case (3G roaming agreement)," a senior DoT official said in an internal note.

Major service providers including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Essar and Idea Cellular have entered into 3G roaming alliances in their bid to offer high-end data services on a pan-India basis.

In a similar deal with Tata Teleservices, Aircel offers 3G services in six circles.

However, their moves did not go well with the DoT which feels that these inter-operator alliances violate terms and conditions of the third generation (3G) spectrum agreements which were singed in June last year following high-bid auctions.

The DoT took up the issue after regulator Trai had prima-facie come to conclusion that such agreements are in violation of the terms and conditions of the telecom licences.

Earlier, DoT's Wireless Planning and Coordination (WPC) Wing, which keeps an eye on industry players had also said that the 3G inter-operator arrangements between the Licensee should not be treated as roaming arrangement. It should be treated as sharing of spectrum which is not permitted under the agreements signed with the DoT, the note added.

The WPC, a DoT wing, had also warned that the move by the service providers would result in revenue loss to the exchequer.

Defending the 3G roaming agreements between telecom operators, the GSM lobby Cellular Operators Association of India had said they did not violate the Unified Access Services Licence (UASL) under which service providers can offer all services.

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First Published: Mon, November 14 2011. 16:53 IST