No coercive action against telcos till Jan 3: TDSAT to DoT

No coercive action against telcos till Jan 3: TDSAT to DoT

In some relief to mobile operators, telecom tribunal TDSAT today directed the government not to take any "coercive" action against three telecom firms over inter-circle roaming (ICR) agreement on 3G till January 3.

The telecom ministry had issued notices to Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea asking them to stop ICR for premium 3G mobile services as it was termed illegal and in violation of licence norms.

"Till next date of hearing, respondent (DoT) would not take any coercive actions against these operators to enforce the order of December 23, 2011," TDSAT Bench headed by its chairperson Justice S B Sinha said.

These three operators along with two others (Tatas and Aircel) had moved TDSAT, which held special hearing today and stayed DoT's decision till January 3, 2012. It issued notices to telecom ministry asking them to file their response by next week.

Representing Vodafone, senior counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi said the operators were not issued any show cause and not given a chance to be heard. They (DoT) have failed to follow the minimal parameters of "good governance".

The order was completely "arbitrary and illegal", Singhvi said adding that under the Unified Access Services License (UASL), the operators are free to offer various types of services like voice, messaging and data.

Saying that 2G and 3G are just different technologies, Singhvi said the present licence terms doesn't bar the operators from offering ICR.

Additional Solicitor General A S Chandioke, appearing for DoT, submitted that the telecom firms need separate licence for 3G spectrum as a new clause was inserted in the licence conditions of the operators who have got 3G bandwidth

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