DoT challenges TDSAT decision on 3G roaming

16 Sep 2014

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has petitioned the Supreme Court, challenging a ruling from the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) that permits 3G roaming agreements. The Economic Times writes that the watchdog is looking to reverse the decision, which had overturned the DoT’s ban on the service, whereby operators can sell 3G services outside of their licensed areas via pacts with other providers. The matter has been a contentious issue since the 3G licences were first awarded in 2010. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that prior to the spectrum auction, prospective bidders requested clarification on 3G roaming and were informed that the practice was allowed. With no bidder winning pan-Indian spectrum, Vodafone, Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular quickly hammered out agreements to extend their footprints nationwide via roaming pacts. In December 2011, however, the government performed a u-turn, banning the practice and issuing fines to those companies involved. Subsequent years have seen the issue traverse India’s Byzantine court system, with the most recent ruling – by the TDSAT in April 2014 – deciding against the DoT and permitting 3G roaming pacts.