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Policy & Regulation
Telco chiefs, Sibal fail reach agreement on 3G roaming issue
TT Correspondent |  |  01 Dec 2011

The telecom industry appears to be divided over the 3G roaming agreements, with some of the operators asking the government to come out with a new framework on the issue.

Chiefs of leading telecom firms, including Sunil Mittal of Bharti Airtel, Anil Ambani of RCom and Vittorio Colao of Vodafone on Wednesday met Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal and placed their views.

According to sources in the telecom ministry, there was no unanimity in the industry over the contentious issue of 3G raoming pact which has been termed as violation of licence norms, both by the Department of Telecom (DoT) and sector regulator Trai.

Besides 3G roaming, sources said, operators also discussed various issues like spectrum pricing and Trai's recommendations on merger and acquisition. The outcome of the meeting, however, could not be ascertained.

Operators also met Trai Chairman J S Sarma and discussed the same topics with him too.

Yesterday, Sibal had said that the decisions related to issues such as 3G roaming would be made only after discussions with the industry and in accordance with the law.

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

Recently, the DoT had said in an internal note that 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, according to the internal note prepared by the DoT.

Today's meeting comes close on the heels of the Bharti, Idea and Vodafone writing a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking his intervention in the dispute over 3G roaming pact.

The operators had also threatened to surrender spectrum in case the dispute was not resolved.

The Telecom Ministry and Trai have termed the roaming pact between these players as violation of licence, saying it tantamounts to spectrum sharing, which is not allowed as per the existing policy.

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01 Dec 2011(IST)  
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