The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) on 29 April 2014 allowed intra circle 3G roaming for service providers.
The ruling also quashed 1200 crore rupees in penalties imposed on Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular by the department of telecommunication (DoT). DoT had accused the nation's top three operators of violating licensing rules by entering into 3G network-sharing agreements.
The two-judge bench headed by Justice Aftab Alam was highly critical of the basis on which the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had barred the 3G pacts. The tribunal mentioned that prior to the auction of 3G frequencies in 2010, the terms of the unified access service (UAS) licence allowed such sharing.
The Government of India (GoI) decided to appeal to the Supreme Court against the TDSAT order.
The appellate tribunal said the logic of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India in branding 3G roaming illegal was flawed. The tribunal said the licence in no way prohibited an operator from providing 3G services. It also criticised the regulator for saying this would lead to an unfair advantage for some.
In 2010, Bharti Airtel and other operators bid thousands of crores of rupees to acquire bandwidth in a government auction to provide 3G services. Because of the steep price, no company bought pan-India spectrum.
In 2011, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea entered into pacts that allowed them to share the spectrum and sign up 3G customers in places where they didn't win airwaves in the auction.
The government ruled these arrangements illegal and slapped penalties of 350 crore rupees on Bharti Airtel, 550 crore rupees on Vodafone and 300 crore rupees on Idea.
When: 29 April 2014
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