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Bharti Airtel moves Delhi High Court against DoT order on 3G roaming curbs

Bharti Airtel has moved the Delhi High Court challenging a recent notice of the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) asking telecom firms to stop 3G roaming services outside their licensed area.

IANS   New Delhi     Last Updated: October 1, 2012  | 19:00 IST

Bharti Airtel, India's largest telecom service provider, has moved the Delhi High Court challenging a recent notice of the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) asking telecom firms to stop 3G roaming services outside their licensed area.

The petition against DoT notice said "it adversely affects the interest of the customers and the subscribers who are benefiting from the 3G arrangements".

"The impugned decision of the DoT is violative of Article 14 (equality before law) as it is arbitrary, has no rational basis, is illogical and contrary to the contract between the parties," the petition said.

The operators had entered into roaming agreements with others to offer 3G services such as video calling, mobile TV and multi-media gaming in areas where they did not have 3G spectrum.

The plea filed by Bharti Airtel sought the setting aside of the September 28 decision of DoT that asked the service providers to stop providing intra circle roaming (ICR).

The petition said the notice was contrary to the interim orders passed by the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) that restrained DoT from taking any coercive step against the companies.

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

"On December 23, 2011 at about 5 pm, DoT issued a communication instructing various telecom service providers, including the petitioner, to immediately stop providing the intra circle roaming service in all service area," said the petition.

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

The chairman of the TDSAT in the interim order restrained the DoT from taking any coercive step.

"The TDSAT passed split verdict and resultantly the matter is pending before the court and it is not disposed of. Thus, the interim order passed by the TDSAT and confirmed by this court (Delhi High Court) continues to remain in force and the DoT cannot take any step to restrain the petitioner from acting upon the 3G ICR arrangements," the petition added.

The DoT's notice was contrary to public interest as the rights of the millions of subscribers having 3G roaming facility will be affected, said the plea.

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