Delhi High Court has issued an order, removing the stay on Department of Telecom’s earlier directive asking Vodafone, Airtel and Idea to annul their 3G roaming pact.
Hence, now Airtel will have to stop its 3G services in 7 circles where it offers the services using spectrum of Idea Cellular and Vodafone.
The impacted circles include Kolkata, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Haryana, UP, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh.
DoT had earlier asked Airtel to stop its Intra circle roaming agreement with the other two operators and had also asked Airtel to pay a fine of Rs 350 crore terming the pact as illegal.
Airtel got stay order from a single bench of Delhi High court on the DoT order. However now a larger bench of Delhi High Court has quashed the earlier ruling and has asked Airtel to stop offering 3G services and will also have to pay the fine of Rs 350 crore.
Bharti Airtel is expected to approach the Supreme Court on the matter today, but will have to shut down 3G services in seven regions if SC fails to provide relief.
The High Court was acting on a plea by Reliance Communications (RCOM), which said Bharti’s move to provide pan-India 3G data services was impacting its business.
Vodafone and Idea Cellular also offer 3G services through this pact and are likely to get notice from the DoT, demanding that they hang up on 3G roaming pacts.
Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea won 3G airwaves in 13, nine and 11 circles, respectively, in the 2010 auctions. They subsequently entered into intra-circle roaming pacts which allowed them to offer 3G services where it did not have spectrum on its own, but used the partners spectrum to offer services.