DoT to issue notices over 3G roaming; TRAI recommends keeping operator’s cash

27 Mar 2012

India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) reportedly plans to issue show-cause notices to wireless operators for attempting to circumvent regulations governing the provision of 3G services and the use of 3G spectrum. According to the Wall Street Journal, the DoT has found that operators issued with 3G concessions in 2010 have established de facto 3G roaming agreements, which are currently illegal in India. The watchdog has to date been unable to enforce penalties – up to INR500 million (USD9.52 million) for each circle where the licensees have allowed non-licenced players access to their 3G spectrum – as the case is currently being heard by industry arbiter Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT).

In other India news, the Telecoms Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) plans to recommend that the licence fees paid for the 122 2G concessions revoked by the Supreme Court in February remain non-refundable, reports Reuters. Under current regulations, one-off entry fees paid by licensees are refundable, though operators affected by the mass withdrawal of concessions have suggested that the fees be returned, or used to offset fees when the licences are re-auctioned. The government has sought recommendations from the regulator regarding a potential exit strategy for providers that wish to terminate operations: the TRAI has said that it will recommend no changes, as it believes a special exit strategy is not needed.