The Department of Telecom (DoT) is expected to issue fresh show cause notices to Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular over their 3G roaming pact in areas where they don't own licence to provide the high-end data facilities.
Unlike the previous notice, the new DoT notice isn't going to ask the operators to terminate their 3G services but seek an explanation on why their permits should not be cancelled for alleged violation. The operators are supposed to provide the answers within 60 days, Economic Times quotes a DoT official as saying.
The fresh notice from the DoT comes days after the authority issued notice to these operators, asking them to immediately stop providing 3G roaming services outside their licenced areas. However, Bharti Airtel moved the Delhi High Court, saying the move will have an adverse impact on customers.
The court has stayed the orders of the regulator, asking the DoT to avoid taking any 'coercive action' until the next hearing, and allowing the operators to continue with their 3G roaming arrangement.
According to reports, if the 3G roaming pact is held illegal by the court, the telcos may have to shell out a staggering Rs. 50 crore per circle as penalty. This could be a severe hit to the telecom operators in the country, which are also likely to bear the brunt of the refarming of 900MHz band. The spectrum would be replaced with the 1800MHz band at the time of renewal of their licenses.
And the together operators may bear a blow of over Rs. 1.15 lakh crore to switch their 900MHz network and subscribers to the 1800MHz band. Read more on the refarming of 900-MHz spectrum here.