Delhi High Court stays DoT’s rule on intra-circle 3G roam pact
The Delhi High Court stayed the Centre’s move to prohibit mobile service providers from entering into roaming agreements with other operators for the 3G network.
The telecom department had introduced a clause in the letter of intent (LoI) for which it was specified that as per the unified licence, using the 3G spectrum of another operator was not permitted.
Issuing notice to the Department of Telecommunications ( DOT), Justice Rajiv Shakdher sought the ministry’s response within four weeks and stayed the clause 6 of the LoI.
The court passed the order on Idea Cellular’s plea challenging the government’s move for seven circles where it bought 2G spectrum.
As per the rule, “UL(AS) does not permit provisioning of 3G service using the 3G spectrum of any other service provider using any kind of arrangement.”
Appearing for the Idea CellularBSE -1.48 %, senior advocate Maninder Singh submitted that intra roaming facility was permissible in the original licence and for over a year the arrangement was going on by the mobile companies but the government was silent on it.
Countering the mobile company’s argument, Additional Solicitor General Rajeeve Mehra said, “As per the previous licence conditions, 3G roaming was not permitted. This ambiguity cannot be carried forward and, therefore, it has been stated in the new licences that are being issued.”
The court, however, rejected the telecom department’s argument and asked the senior law officer to submit an affidavit replying to Idea’s plea by the next date of hearing.
The LoIs were given to service providers that had secured fresh spectrum in the 1800 MHz band in the government auctions held November last year.
Besides Idea, Bharti AirtelBSE -1.23 % and Vodafone India are the other two companies who had entered into intra-circle 3G roaming agreements with one another.