BSNL weighs in against 3G roaming pacts

26 Apr 2013

Loss-making state owned telco Bhara Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) has accused Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular of forming a cartel in 2010 for bidding in the 3G spectrum sale. The Hindustan Times writes that the allegations formed part of an affidavit filed with the Supreme Court seeking to have Bharti’s special leave petition (SLP) – the cellco’s plea to continue providing 3G services in circles where it does not have a licence through roaming agreements – thrown out. BSNL’s filing claimed the ‘cartelisation’ of the three players in question had ‘clearly robbed the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) of the benefit of higher auction fees from the eventual licensees and hence caused a detriment to public interest and the exchequer.’ The state backed telco also claimed that the providers had failed to pay 3G spectrum fees and had not ‘invested in setting up their infrastructure for providing 3G service and are yet illegally obtaining benefit by illegal roaming agreements.’ All three cellcos mentioned have established their own 3G networks in their respective licensed circles, but have offered services elsewhere – where they do not own or operate networks – via the controversial roaming agreements.