Friday, 15 March 2013

Bharti Airtel slapped Rs. 350 crore fine by telecom department over 3G roaming

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has slapped a penalty of Rs. 350 crore on Bharti Airtel for not stopping third-generation (3G) mobile data services through roaming pacts outside its licensed zones in seven circles. It has also asked the telco to stop 3G roaming services outside its licensed zones immediately.

The DoT, in a notice, has also asked Bharti to file a compliance report within three days.

Last year, the DoT sent show-cause notices to Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular among others, asking them to stop providing 3G mobile data services through roaming pacts outside their licensed zones as it deemed the pacts "illegal".

The government sold 3G airwaves in an auction in 2010 that attracted much higher bids than expected, and no single company managed to get spectrum for all of the country's 22 zones.

The government passed an order, asking telecom companies to stop offering 3G services beyond their licensed circles or zones under mutual roaming agreements. Several telecom companies -- including Airtel, Vodafone, Idea, Aircel and Tata Teleservices -- had filed petitions in the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), challenging the December 23, 2011, directive of DoT to scrap their intra-circle roaming pacts within 24 hours.

Sandip Ginodia
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