Telecom operators Aircel and Tata Docomo have scrapped an agreement for providing 3G services in each other’s circles, following the Department of Telecom’s announcement that these arrangements were illegal, reports The Hindu Business line. The report cites an industry source to confirm the development and quotes that the 3G Intra-Circle Roaming (ICR) arrangement between the two telcos was operational for about 40-50 days on a pilot basis and was scrapped after the Government deemed them illegal.
Recently, Telecom Secretary, R Chandrashekhar had said that the department had received inputs from all concerned agencies, and the verdict was unanimously against permitting 3G intra circle roaming arrangements. He had said that the Government was planning to take action against the erring operators. In October, the Indian Telecom Regulator had sent a letter to Chandrashekhar, highlighting that telecom operators had started offering 3G services in areas not allocated to them, wherein they did not pay a license fee.
This is the first instance where telecom operators seem to have given up their stance on the 3G ICR roaming arrangements where-in they based their argument on the DoT’s response to their queries before the 3G auction took place. Earlier, Vodafone, Idea Cellular and Airtel had jointly written a letter to the Prime Minister of India asking for a refund of the spectrum auction money with interest, in case the ICR roaming arrangements were to be declared illegal. The Prime Minister had responded saying that the Government was looking into their concerns and was in the process of formulating new policies to address them.
Idea Cellular had also mentioned during its earnings call for the last quarter, that the NIA document issued by the DoT before the auction had clarified that the 3G auction was for spectrum, and did not in anyway modify the license condition of the operator.The three operators have 3G ICR arrangements in various circles.