Indian mobile network operators Tata Teleservices (TTSL) and Aircel have reportedly terminated an agreement allowing roaming on their respective 3G networks in those regions where the other did not hold a licence to offer third-generation services. According to the Hindu Business Line, with the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) having looked into the legality of such arrangements, and subsequently announcing that as they were effectively spectrum sharing deals they were indeed illegal, such a move is thought to have been taken with a view to avoiding any punitive action by the regulator. Commenting on the development, the report cites unnamed industry sources as saying: ‘The arrangement between Tata Teleservices and Aircel was operational for about 40-50 days on a pilot basis. The two companies ended the deal soon after the government said that such arrangements were illegal.’
While under existing regulation operators are allowed to ink roaming agreements to enable customers to benefit from seamless coverage as they move between circles, it has been noted that under the 3G tie-ups cellcos are actually selling connections in circles where they do not hold spectrum. All of the DoT’s departments, including the Wireless Planning and Coordination wing and the Telecom Enforcement, Resource and Monitoring unit, have declared such action as contrary to the terms of the concessions. Further, the DoT has argued that roaming agreements between the country’s cellcos for 3G services could lead to significant revenue losses for the state.