India's Reliance Communications has signed roaming pacts with Tata Teleservices and Aircel that will allow the operators to offer 3G data services in each others' service areas.
The companies have forged the deals to help them better utilise network resources and help them compete more effectively with their larger rivals, the Economic Timesreported.
The pacts crucially only cover roaming, and the operators do not intend to sign up 3G customers in service areas where they lack licenses but their partners hold them.
Last year, India's Department of Telecom struck down a roaming pact between Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular that did cover signing up new customers in their partners' service areas, alleging that the three-way deal violated the terms of the operators' licenses.
Reliance Communications, Tata Teleservices and Aircel - along with Loop Mobile - last year signed a series of inter-circle roaming agreements for 2G voice services allowing them to use each others' networks. This latest agreement builds on the collaboration.
The three operators together have a roughly 20% share of India's crowded mobile market, enough to take on the incumbents. There have been persistent rumors that the three companies may be acquisition targets.