Honb. Supreme Court bars India’s top telecom operator Bharti Airtel from adding new 3G subscribers in 7 telecom circles where it don’t have 3G spectrum license and was providing 3G services through intra-circle roaming agreement with other operators, Vodafone and Idea Cellular.

Supreme Court - Airtel Can't add new 3G subscribers in 7 Telecom circles

The decision came today from Supreme court on 3G roaming case, where Department of Telecom (DoT) asked Airtel to withdraw its 3G services in seven telecom circles where they don’t have 3G spectrum license. The Seven telecom circles include Kerala, Kolkata, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh East. Airtel still can provide 3G services to their existing subscribers in this telecom circles.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice Vikramajit Sen issued notices to the Centre and Reliance Communications Ltd to sought their response within two weeks on the petition filed by Bharti Airtel challenging a Delhi High Court order giving its nod to DoT’s decision to hold the 3G roaming pact of the telecom major as illegal, says a report on The Hindu. The court also said that there will be no coercive steps taken on the Rs 350 crore penalty slashed by DoT against Airtel on providing illegal 3G services. The next hearing will be on May 9th, 2013.

Background –

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. On April 4th, Delhi High Court lifted the stay order and asked Airtel to stop its 3G service in 7 Telecom Circles. Airtel then moved against this on supreme court and got a stay order on this.

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