TDSAT’s split verdict on 3G roaming pacts; Telcos to move Supreme Court (Lead)

July 3rd, 2012 - 9:58 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 3 (IANS) The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) Tuesday delivered a split verdict in the 3G roaming case in which mobile operators had challenged a government order asking them to stop offering services beyond their licensed zones through mutual roaming pacts.

The two members of the bench, comprising chairman Justice (retd) S.B. Sinha and member P.K. Rastogi, had different views on the order, with one favouring the department of telecom that held the roaming pacts illegal while the other supporting the operators who had challenged it.

The TDSAT is short of one judge as the technical member has retired.

Following the ruling, the Department of Telecom (DoT) is all set to issue fresh notices to the operators.

As the tribunal said both sides can appeal to a higher court, the operators are likely to move the Supreme Court.

“We will most certainly look up at options including moving the Supreme Court once we receive a communication from the DoT,” Rajan Mathews, director general of the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), told IANS.

Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular had entered into roaming agreements to offer 3G services such as video calling, mobile TV and multi-media gaming in areas where they did not have 3G spectrum.

The DoT had last December asked the operators to terminate their 3G roaming agreements calling those illegal. The department also said the government was losing revenue because of the agreements.

The operators had then moved the tribunal challenging the DoT order, saying it would harm customers and investment in the sector.

Tuesday’s judgement, however, would not affect the services being offered by these operators at the moment.

Following the orders, shares of Bharti Airtel shot up 3.21 percent at Rs.319.80 while that of Idea Cellular by 4.57 percent at Rs.81.25.

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