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Airtel moves court on 3G roaming curbs

Posted on Oct 01, 07:27PM | IANS

Telecom service provider Bharti Airtel Monday moved the Delhi High Court challenging a recent notice of DoT to telecom firms asking them to stop 3G roaming services outside their licensed area.

The operators had entered into roaming agreements with others to offer 3G services such as video calling, mobile TV and multi-media gaming in areas where they did not have 3G spectrum.

The petition against the department of telecommunications (DoT) notice said that "it adversely affects the interest of the customers and the subscribers who are benefiting from the 3G arrangements".

"The impugned decision of the DoT is violative of Article 14 (equality before law) as it is arbitrary, has no rational basis, is illogical and contrary to the contract between the parties," the petition said.

The plea filed by Bharti Airtel sought the setting aside of the Sep 28 decision of DoT that asked the service providers to stop providing intra circle roaming (ICR).

The petition said the notice was contrary to the interim orders passed by the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) that restrained the DoT from taking any coercive step against the companies.

The DoT last December asked the operators to terminate their 3G roaming agreements calling it illegal. The department had also said that the government was losing revenue because of these agreements.

"On Dec 23, 2011 at about 5 p.m., the DoT issued a communication instructing various telecom service providers, including the petitioner, to immediately stop providing the intra circle roaming service in all service area," said the petition.

The operators then moved the tribunal challenging the DoT order, saying it would harm customers and investment in the sector.

The chairman of the TDSAT in the interim order restrained the DoT from taking any coercive step.

"The TDSAT passed split verdict and resultantly the matter is pending before the court and it is not disposed of. Thus, the interim order passed by the TDSAT and confirmed by this court (Delhi High Court) continues to remain in force and the DoT cannot take any step to restrain the petitioner from acting upon the 3G ICR arrangements," the petition added.

The DoT's notice was contrary to public interest as the rights of the millions of subscribers having 3G roaming facility will be affected, said the plea.