India’s top telecom operator Bharti Airtel may soon withdraw its 3G services in seven telecom circles as per an order from Department of Telecom (DoT) , says a report on Times of India. This seven telecom circles where Airtel don’t have 3G spectrum license and was providing 3G services through mutual agreement with its rival other operators, Vodafone and Idea Cellular.
In addition Bharti Airtel has been slapped with a penalty of total Rs 350 cores or Rs 50 cores for each seven telecom circle where it was providing 3G services without license. Bharti Airtel have won 3G spectrum license in 13 out of 22 telecom circles in 2010 and was providing 3G services in this seven telecom circles through roaming agreement with Vodafone and Idea Cellular. DoT has earlier issued directives for telecom operators to stop offering 3G roaming pacts, which enabled operators to offer customers 3G service in area’s where they don’t have proper 3G spectrum license.
During December, 2011, DoT issued its first notice to all telecom operators including the Bharti Airtel to immediately stop providing the intra circle 3G roaming services. Operators moved against this on Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) where they got a split verdict. On September 2012, DoT issued second notice to Bharti Airtel to completely stop offering 3G services from circles where it doesn’t have proper license. This was challenged in Delhi High Court and Airtel got a stay order on this. But atlast Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal have approved the recommendation from DoT to impose penalty on this.
It also been reported that DoT is now preparing similar notices for Vodafone and Idea Cellular who were also offering 3G roaming pacts.