Stung by the termination notice for 3G roaming pacts, telecom major Bharti Airtel on Friday said the move will severely dent the credibility of the government and will adversely impact the much-needed investments in the sector and the country.
The company, along with peers Vodafone and Idea, were today issued notices by the Department of Telecom (DoT) to stop their 3G roaming agreements with immediate effect as these have been termed illegal and has sought their response within 24 hours.
"We are shocked at the arbitrary decision taken by the DoT to issue instructions to stop intra circle roaming (ICR) for 3G services among the telecom operators," Bharti Airtel said in a statement.
It added that it is "demoralising" to note that the decision has been arrived at without providing any opportunity of hearing to industry players.
The roaming agreement, signed between the three companies, allowed them to offer 3G mobile services in circles where they could not succeed in getting spectrum in the auction held last year.
The DoT took the decision after law ministry's view. It felt the agreement would lead to a significant loss of revenue to the government. Trai had also termed the agreement as violation of licence norms, a charge rejected by the industry.
Calling the DoT's decision as violation of the principle of natural justice, Bharti Airtel said, "It is even more painful to note how the written action by DoT has been delayed till Friday evening fully knowing that any legal recourse needs court working days."
The company said it will take "appropriate recourse to protect its rights".
The company said to unwind a strategic deployment like ICR, expert intervention is required along with CRM, network and IT are to be taken care of.
"More importantly, customers have to be informed and their financial commitment towards the service has to be protected, as per the regulation," Bharti Airtel said.
It said that the arrangements between Bharti, Vodafone and Idea were brought to the notice of DoT, TRAI and other related agencies before launching our 3G ICR services.
"The DoT's decision months after the launch of 3G ICR roaming services violates the principle of natural justice and is to say the least illegal," it said.
The company said the decision is a "retrograde step" as it will adversely impact the proliferation of broadband penetration, depriving millions of people in rural and urban India from affordable and quality telecom services.
The reverse stance taken by the DoT from its earlier stated position sends a wrong signal, not only within the telecom industry but to the entire business community looking for a stable and transparent policy regime, it added.
"This decision is tantamount to reneging on a promise. This will severely dent the credibility of the Government and adversely impact the much needed investments in the sector as well as the country," Bharti Airel said.