After Bharti Airtel,the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) on Friday issued notices to Vodafone and Idea Cellular ordering them to immediately stop providing 3G intra-circle roaming services in circles where they do not have spectrum. Vodafone and Idea provide such services in 11 and 6 circles,respectively.
Apart from asking the two companies to stop roaming services,the DoT has also slapped a penalty of Rs 550 crore on Vodafone and Rs 300 crore on Idea for violating licence conditions.
Vodafone has already requested to be impleaded itself with Bhartis case. Idea officials said that they are contemplating legal steps against the DoT order.
Interestingly,Idea Cellular had earlier received a stay order from the Delhi High Court in a related matter.
Idea,which had got fresh licences in seven circles after winning spectrum in November 2012,had moved the HC against the DoTs move of inserting a clause in the licence conditions that it cannot provide 3G intra-circle roaming in these circles. The court had stayed this action of DoTs till further hearing.
Industry sources said that the 3G intra-circle roaming case has become complicated and seems set for a long-drawn battle. The fight between the mobile operators and the DoT over this issue is an old one in which no clarity emerged since even the TDSAT gave a split verdict. fe