The telecom regulatory authority of India (TRAI) has written to the department of telecommunications (DoT) that 3G roaming services offered by five telecom service providers — Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Tata Teleservices, Aircel and Idea Cellular — in those circles where they do not have 3G spectrum are illegal.
These companies have entered into bilateral roaming agreements with each other and are offering 3G services in the states where they do not have spectrum. DoT has not yet taken any action against these companies despite its telecom enforcement resource and monitoring (TERM) cell bringing to its notice, about two months back, that these companies were involved in violation of licence conditions.
TRAI has pointed out that the telecom licences of operators, who won 3G spectrum, were amended to allow them to offer 3G services. Licences for each state is an independent licence. Hence, the licences for only those states were amended for which the operators won 3G spectrum.
For example, if a company “A” does not have 3G spectrum for Delhi, then it can not offer 3G services in Delhi.
“The amendments in the UAS/CMTS licences have been carried out only for those licencees who have been allotted 3G spectrum through an auction process. As such the authority is of the opinion that only those service providers are authorised to provide the mobile services using 3G spectrum in the concerned service areas, and if any other licencee who has not been authorised to offer 3G services through 3G spectrum then it amounts of violation of licence terms and conditions,” said TRAI to the DoT secretary in a letter on October 20.
With TRAI’s adverse recommendation, it will be difficult for the DoT officials to protect these companies. Operators, however, deny any wrongdoing and say that they are following licence terms.