India will this week decide what action to take over allegations that local operators had forged national 3G roaming pacts in violation of their licence terms.
The country’s Department of Telecoms (DoT), which claims the roaming agreements result in a significant loss of revenue for the government, is reported to have sought legal advice from India’s Law Ministry, which has backed its view to take action.
"The broad view that is emerging is that it is impermissible," said India’s Telecoms Secretary R Chandrashekhar yesterday, reports Times of India.
One punitive measure being considered is to increase operator revenue shares to the government in regions where 3G roaming alliances are in place to compensate for possible revenue losses. It has been suggested that the government could see an additional INR7 billion (US$134 million) in revenue if the proposal is adopted.
Such roaming deals are seen as a way for the operators to offer a nationwide 3G service as none were able to secure 3G spectrum covering the entire country at auction last year. One of the largest 3G alliances is between Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Essar and Idea Cellular.
In a joint letter to the Indian prime minister last month, these three operators demanded that their 3G licence fees be refunded if the government goes ahead with plans to outlaw national roaming agreements between 3G operators.
The firms claim that the government had given “pre-auction confirmation” that 3G roaming would be allowed and that to ban it would be in breach of contract.