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DoT To Act Against Operators For 3G Roaming Pacts

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The Telecom Ministry said on Monday it will soon take action against service providers that have entered into roaming agreements for 3G services, as the pacts violate licence terms and conditions.

Stating that the ministry had received the views of the Law Ministry, among others, on the matter, Telecom Secretary R Chandrashekhar said, "The broad view that is emerging is that it is impermissible."

The ministry will soon take action, he added, but declined to give further details.

He was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of an Assocham event here.

The issue pertains to the pact between major service providers, including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Essar and Idea Cellular, for providing a 3G roaming network on a pan-India basis.

Other service providers, like Tata Teleservices and Aircel, had also entered into a similar agreements to offer services in six circles.

The Department of Telecom (DoT) had sought a legal opinion on this matter and the Law Ministry had also supported the DoT's view.

In an internal note, the DoT had said the roaming agreement among telecom companies for 3G services would lead to a significant loss of revenue for the government.

There may also be an impact on revenues from spectrum usage charges collected from operators, the note added.

The chiefs of three leading telecom firms -- Bharti, Idea and Vodafone -- had then sought Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's intervention in the dispute over the 3G roaming pact, failing which they said they would surrender spectrum.

Singh, on his part, had assured the industry that the government will look into their concerns and formulate forward-looking policies to sustain growth in the sector.