Telco biggies knock at PM's door over 3G

Telco biggies knock at PM's door over 3G

In a letter jointly signed by Sunil Mittal of Bharti Airtel, Kumar Manglam Birla of Idea and Vodafone Group CEO Vittorio Colao have threatened to surrender the 3G (third generation) radio waves to the Government unless the issue is resolved immediately.

“In the event 3G intra-circle roaming is now deemed impermissible, then, it would be clear breach of our contract and the pre-auction confirmation given by the Government. In that eventuality, we request that our spectrum auction payments be refunded to us with interest along with compensation for all the capital investments made by us,” the three honchos stated in the letter, sent on November 21. Airtel, along with other operators including Vodafone and Idea Cellular, had entered into a roaming agreement to offer 3G services in the circles where they could not win 3G spectrum.

However, the telecom regulator and the enforcement cell of the telecom department have termed such an agreement illegal. The TRAI(Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) in its report on the issue said such an arrangement was not only causing loss to the national exchequer but also affecting the quality of 3G services offered to consumers.

But the companies claim that as they have already paid high prices for 3G spectrum, they should be allowed to 3G roaming.

It also pointed out that the licenses allotted to the companies were specifically amended in 2008 to incorporate the right to do intra-circle roaming, without any conditions.

“We are completely astonished to hear that the Government is now considering a reversal of its earlier stated position and seeking to question the legally or permissibility of 3G ICR (intra circle roaming) arrangement). This is tantamount to reneging on the Government’s promises made through the technology-neutral licence and the 2008 licence amendment,” the letter added.

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