Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular are under scrutiny from India’s Department of Telecom (DoT) and regulator Trai concerning the legitimacy of their 3G roaming pacts.
The issue arose because other carriers MTNL, BSNL, Aircel and Tata Teleservices had sought advice before signing similar agreements.
According to the Economic Times, the DoT said legal clarification was needed as to whether subscribers from other networks were permitted to roam into a carrier’s 3G network.
India’s GSM carriers had resorted to forming 3G roaming deals with one another as no single operator had bagged pan-India 3G airwaves during spectrum auctions last year.
Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea had secured 3G spectrum licenses in 13, 9 and 11 circles respectively, and their roaming alliance, signed in July, allowed subscribers access to high-speed services outside of regions where their carriers held spectrum licenses.
MTNL is looking to enter similar agreements with Tata Teleservices and Aircel for 3G coverage in hotspots Delhi and Mumbai. Both Aircel and Tata Teleservices had failed to bag spectrum in both cities, but MTNL did.
Vodafone and Idea Cellular have both argued that their permits allow for roaming agreements under existing rules.