In what would come as a major relief to Bharti Airtel, the Delhi High Court has stayed the Department of Telecom's (DoT) order that barred the telecom operator from providing 3G services outside its licenced zones. The HC also allowed Airtel to continue with 3G intra-circle roaming facilities until the final court order.
The telecom department has been asked not to take any action until next court hearing, slated to be held on May 8. The Delhi HC also said Airtel need not pay the Rs. 350 crore penalty imposed the telecom department for violating 3G roaming guidelines.
Earlier, the telecom department had asked Bharti Airtel to stop offering 3G roaming services outside its licenced zones with immediate effect. The telecom department also slapped a penalty of Rs. 350 crore for providing 3G outside its licenced zones in seven circles namely Haryana, Kolkata, Uttar Pradesh East, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh.
The "sale/provisioning of 3G services through the network of other operators using intra-circle roaming facility leads not only to licence violations but also results in undue enrichment of these mobile phone companies who are collecting revenue from 3G customers without specific authorisation,” said an internal DoT note.
The DoT order could have serious impact on Airtel, which could have lost its pan-India 3G presence. It's notable the DoT is planning to issue similar notice to Vodafone and Idea Cellular.
Source: The Hindu