3G case: Tribunal’s jurisdiction on hearing questioned

January 3rd, 2012 - 3:10 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 3 (IANS) The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) Tuesday adjourned to Jan 9 the hearing on top telecom operators providing 3G roaming services after the Department of Telecom (DoT) questioned its jurisdiction to decide the matter.

A two-judge bench headed by Justice (retd) S.B. Sinha asked the DoT, represented by Additional Solicitor General A.S. Chandhiok, to file an application to ascertain if TDSAT had powers to decide licensing issues.

The mobile service providers were also asked to state their position on the DoT application.

Meanwhile, the 3G roaming agreements will continue to be serviced by the companies till the next hearing on Jan 9.

Last month TDSAT had asked DoT not to take any “coercive” action in enforcing a ban on 3G roaming against the telecom service providers till it heard the case on Jan 3.

Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular and Vodafone had moved the telecom tribunal challenging a DoT order to stop 3G roaming services within 24 hours, saying it would harm customers and the cause of investment in the sector.

According to DoT, the roaming agreement among telecom companies for 3G services is illegal and would lead to a significant loss of revenue to the government. Earlier, telecom regulator TRAI and the enforcement cell of the telecom department had also termed the agreement illegal.

The service providers had entered into a roaming agreement to offer 3G services such as video calling, mobile TV and multi-media gaming in telecom circles where they could not win 3G spectrum auctioned last year.

The operators have termed DoT’s actions arbitrary, unreasonable and retrograde.

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