The Indian government appears increasingly likely to block Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular from executing their planned 3G roaming partnership.
The finance wing of India's Department of Telecom has advised the ministry such deals would deprive the government of possible revenue, Economic Timesreported.
This is the third segment of the Department to raise objection to 3G roaming agreements. A second such agreement between Aircel and Tata Teleservices is also at risk of being blocked.
The wing has argued that as the deals would allow operators to offer 3G services in zones where they do not hold spectrum – and thus do not pay spectrum usage charges – it would hamper the revenue potential of the licenses.
It also feels that allowing the deals would create an uneven playing field for other 3G spectrum holders without similar arrangements.
Bharti, Vodafone and Idea in July announced arrangements that would allow them to offer 3G services in areas where they lack spectrum using frequencies owned by their partners.
But the DoT launched a probe of the agreements in October, to determine whether they breach the terms of their respective 3G licenses.