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Airtel, Idea & Vodafone India resume 3G intra-circle roaming services

Following the TDSAT judgement allowing 3G intra-circle roaming agreements last week, telecom operators Airtel, Idea Cellular and Vodafone India have resumed offering 3G services in circles where they do not have spectrum.

Remember that Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular had inked a Intra-circle 3G roaming agreement way back in 2011, which allowed Vodafone to launch 3G services in Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. Aircel and Tata Docomo had also inked a similar agreement, although it was scrapped after the Government deemed them illegal.

Where has 3G services resumed

Airtel has resumed 3G services in eight circles – Haryana, Maharashtra, Goa, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh & Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Kolkata and UP (East) from yesterday. The service is currently available for prepaid customers in these circles through various 3G roaming packs. It is expected to be rolled out shortly for postpaid customers shortly. Airtel had earlier won 3G spectrum in 13 circles.

Idea Cellular has resumed 3G services in 10 circles – Delhi, Mumbai, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Kolkata & West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Assam and North East, which apparently accounts for 25% of its 137 million connection base. The service will be available for both prepaid and postpaid Idea customers. The 3G roaming packs are priced in the range of Rs 7 to Rs 1499, however this might differ from circle to circle. Idea Cellular has 3G spectrum in 12 circles, including Delhi where the telco had acquired 5 MHz of spectrum in the February 2014 spectrum auctions. It has however rolled out 3G services in 10 circles with plans to roll it out to Punjab and Delhi this financial year.

Vodafone India has resumed 3G services in 11 circles – Madhya Pradesh & Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh (West), Bihar, Assam and North East, as per an ET report. The service will be available for both prepaid and postpaid Vodafone India customers. The telco has 3G spectrum in nine circles.

The only remaining circle is Orissa where none of the three telcos have 3G spectrum. We wonder whether these telcos are looking to ink similar partnerships with Aircel or Reliance Communications which has 3G spectrum in that circle.

DoT Appeal? Note that Department of Telecommunication (DoT) has the option to contest this judgement in the Supreme Court, however the department is reportedly appealing against this order only after the new government comes in power.

Earlier, TDSAT has also quashed the cumulative penalties of Rs 1,200 crore imposed by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) on Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular for violation of licence norms in April last year. A 3G Intra-Circle Roaming case timeline here.

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