Govt asks mobile carriers to stop 3G roaming pacts

NEW DELHI Fri Sep 28, 2012 11:58pm IST

1 of 2. Visitors stand at a mobile stall during the four-day long 'Mobileasia 2008' exhibition in New Delhi March 2, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Vijay Mathur/Files

Related Topics

Stocks

   

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - The government asked mobile telecommunication carriers to immediately stop providing third-generation (3G) data services outside their licensed zones through roaming pacts with each other, the secretary of the Department of Telecommunications said on Friday, adding to regulatory uncertainty in the sector.

India's telecommunications market, the world's second-biggest by number of users, has been hit by regulatory uncertainties recently, including a Supreme Court order to cancel 2G cellular permits awarded in a scandal-tainted 2008 sale. Affected carriers will have to buy airwaves in an auction scheduled for November.

The latest move comes after the government said in December that it was illegal to offer 3G data services beyond their allotted zones. The carriers challenged the government order before the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), which in July gave a split verdict.

Telecommunications officials on Friday sent "show cause notices as well as an advisory to stop (3G) services" through such pacts to companies, said R. Chandrashekhar, the secretary of the Department of Telecommunications, which is part of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology. In effect, he is India's top bureaucrat in the telecommunications ministry.

Although companies have 60 days to respond to the notice asking why action should not be taken against them for violating the rules, they will have to stop services immediately and inform the government within three days that they have complied with the order, he added.

The government sold 3G airwaves in a 2010 auction that attracted much higher bids than initially expected and no single company managed to get spectrum in all of the country's 22 zones.

Leading mobile operators Bharti Airtel Ltd (BRTI.NS), Vodafone Group Plc's (VOD.L) India unit and Idea Cellular Ltd (IDEA.NS) currently provide 3G services beyond their licensed zones through pacts between themselves.

Uptake of 3G services has been slower than expected as a majority of the mobile subscribers mostly use their phones to make calls and also partly due to the high prices of such services.

Of India's more than 900 million mobile connections, about 50 million are 3G subscribers and not all who have 3G use the premium services regularly. The services currently account for a very small portion of mobile operators' revenues.

Bharti and Vodafone India officials declined immediate comment on Friday, while Idea officials were not available.

(Reporting by Devidutta Tripathy; Writing by Aradhana Aravindan; Editing by Matt Driskill)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (1)
JacobC wrote:
Anything that’s not good for the business community is a regulatory issue, whether it was flagged by the government or the judiciary and it’s called unclear policy.

The way these 3G operators ganged up and came up with the roaming pact was nothing short of a farce. The very same 3G operators outbid one another in drunken stupor only to soberly realize their foolishness. Not only did they have a bad hangover, they also gave the CAG a stick to beat them with in the form of a 1.72 Lakh Crore loss claim which proved even more damning.

And when you get clarity from the government about this ridiculous 3G roaming pack, the business media gangs up and says it lacks clarity. Good going guys.

Sep 28, 2012 3:18pm IST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Scotland Referendum

Scotland Referendum

Scots vote in record numbers, await independence verdict.  Full Article 

India-US Diplomacy

India-US Diplomacy

Obama to nominate Indian-American Richard Verma as India ambassador - congressional source.  Full Article 

GMR in Nepal

GMR in Nepal

Nepal clears India’s GMR plan for $1.4 bln hydroelectric plant.  Full Article 

LIC on Markets

LIC on Markets

LIC chairman bullish on Indian markets  Full Article 

India Rains

India Rains

Monsoon rains weaken as late retreat looms.  Full Article 

Ellison Quits

Ellison Quits

Oracle's Ellison steps aside, co-CEOs Catz and Hurd take over.  Full Article 

Infosys-Huawei

Infosys-Huawei

Infosys partners with China's Huawei for cloud-based services  Full Article 

Gold Outlook

Gold Outlook

Gold imports seen up, premiums likely to double on festive buying  Full Article 

Trade Dispute

Trade Dispute

U.S. to press India on trade row during Modi's Washington visit  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage