Idea moves to block back-door 3G roaming ban

8 Feb 2013

Idea Cellular has launched a legal challenge in the Delhi High Court in a bid to prevent the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) from introducing new rules that will forbid 3G roaming. The Economic Times writes that the DoT has issued letters of intent to the cellcos that won concessions in the November auction, stating that the unified licences that they will be issued ‘[do] not permit provisioning of 3G service using the 3G spectrum of any other service provider using any kind of arrangement.’

An official from the DoT confirmed the change, adding: ‘According to the previous licence conditions, 3G roaming was not permitted. The ambiguity cannot be carried forward and therefore it has been stated in the new licences that are being issued.’

As noted by TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the thorny matter of 3G roaming has been a bone of contention between operators and authorities. The practice of offering 3G services in circles where a provider does not hold spectrum via roaming agreements with other cellcos was given a green light prior to the auction of 3G spectrum in 2010, only for the watchdog to later reverse its decision. Regulators have since been battling with providers to ban the practice, though arbitration from bodies such as the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has so far been inconclusive.