Due to less clarity in TDSAT verdict on 3G roaming, uncertainties continue

Telecom Lead India: Due to lack of clarity in the split
verdict by TDSAT on the 3G roaming pact issue, uncertainties continue in the
Indian mobile market.

Operators such as Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular and
Vodafone will continue to offer 3G services on pan-India basis.

It is learnt that the two-member bench of TDSAT did not
ask these GSM operators to stop 3G roaming services.

The telecom industry says TDSAT should not have given the
verdict since they had only two members. If they had a 3-member team, verdict
would have been more transparent to these operators.

Telcos have interpreted the ruling to mean the earlier
order of the tribunal that temporarily restrained the government from banning
3G roaming would remain in force.

Department of telecom asked to issue fresh notices to operators

According to a report in Business Standard, TDSAT member
P K Rastogi said the operators could not provide roaming services as they were
not allowed to provide 3G services with 2G licences.

TDSAT chairman, Justice S B Sinha, ordered the DoT to
start the procedure afresh, as the department had not followed proper procedure
and the operators were not given enough time to present their views.

Though it is a spilt verdict, we are disappointed. We
are looking forward to the final ruling. The DoT now has 90 days to file a
rejoinder to the earlier notice. We’ll wait for the 90-day window and then
approach the Supreme Court,” said Rajan Mathews of COAI.

Lawyers say as a result of the split verdict, the status
quo” would be maintained.

TDSAT order on 3G a big blow for telecom cos

Industry analysts say Government decisions and policy
measures should be taken keeping in mind the impact on the consumers.

In order to provide seamless 3G connectivity to
consumers 3G roaming pacts are necessary. From an operator’s perspective, as
they have invested heavily in procuring spectrum and deploying the required
infrastructure, Pan India presence is a requisite for making sensible business
cases. Therefore, 3G roaming pacts would ensure effective spectrum usage,
provide enriched service quality through seamless connectivity and thereby,
help bridging the digital divide in the country by increasing the penetration
of mobile broadband services in the long term,” said Abhishek Chauhan, senior
consultant, ICT Practice, Frost & Sullivan, South Asia & Middle

Leading telecos like Bharti, Vodafone and Idea had
entered into an agreement with one another to offer 3G services in circles in
which they could not succeed in getting spectrum in an auction held in 2011. The
DoT had ruled their pact illegal on December 23.

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