Three of India's largest mobile operators – Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Essar and Idea - have reportedly signed agreements to allow for 3G roaming across each others' networks.
The deal covers inter and intra-circle roaming agreements that could eventually enable each operator to provide services India-wide, The Hindusaid, quoting Vodafone Essar.
Due to spectrum scarcity, Bharti, Vodafone and Idea – India's top three GSM operators – own 3G licenses in only 13, 11 and nine respectively of India's 22 telecom circles. The agreement could enable this limitation to be overcome.
Already, Vodafone has launched 3G in the Andhra Pradesh and Kerala circles through an agreement with Idea, and the latter has arranged to introduce 3G in Delhi and Kolkata in a reciprocal deal.
Economic Times reported that the operators have not divulged revenue sharing agreements.
A 3G roaming deal between the operators has been expected for some time, and in March had been rumored to be close to being worked out.
Each operator paid high prices for the 3G licenses they do hold, with Bharti laying out 122.9 billion rupees ($2.76 billion), Vodafone 116.2 billion and Idea 57.7 billion.