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Rediff.com  » Business » Idea faces contempt case on SC's 3G pact order

Idea faces contempt case on SC's 3G pact order

May 25, 2013 12:37 IST

The government has filed a contempt petition before the Delhi High Court against Idea Cellular for allegedly violating a directive of the Supreme Court.

In the petition, the government has requested the court to initiate proceedings against the telcom company for deliberate and wilful disobedience of the apex court order of April 11.

The directive had asked telecom companies providing third-generation services in circles where they did not have spectrum to not enrol new customers.

Major telecom companies had signed agreements to share 3G spectrum and offer services across each others’ circles, as no operator had bought pan-India 3G spectrum in the 2010 auctions. The services are offered across circles through intra-circle roaming pacts.

Idea Cellular declined to comment.

According to the petition, Idea had filed an additional affidavit stating that it had “additionally decided” to provide 3G services to those customers who met the “criteria”.

The April order is clear and has to be complied with or obeyed in its entirety.

It is stated that Idea Cellular has mentioned in its petition it shall extend 3G services to all pre-paid or post-paid subscribers activated on or before April 12 who have used either of any 3G services - including data, voice, SMS, MMS or other VAS services - on the 3G seeker Service Network in the last 90 days preceding April 13, 2013.

According to the government petition, Idea Cellular had said it will be offering 3G services to customers who were not availing the service but had subscribed to one of the 3G service in the last 90 days preceding April 13.

According to the court order, no 3G service can be given to those who were not availing of the service as on April 12.

Earlier, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had asked Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular to end the 3G ICR pacts, and had imposed penalties on each of the telecom companies for alleged violation of licence norms. Bharti Airtel got a penalty of Rs 350 crore (Rs 3.5 billion), Vodafone India Rs 550 crore (Rs 5.5 billion) and Idea Cellular Rs 300 crore (Rs 3 billion).

On April 11, the Supreme Court had said Bharti Airtel would not be able to add new 3G customers in the seven circles where it did not have the required licences and offers the services through ICR pacts.

But it did not bar the company from offering service to 3G customers in Kolkata, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh East and Kerala telecom zones. The ruling was applicable for other telecom service providers, too. The Supreme Court order document came on April 12.

Bharti, Vodafone and Idea had signed ICR pacts to share 3G spectrum and offer services across each others’ circles. Bharti Airtel has 3G spectrum in 13 circles, Vodafone India has in nine and Idea has in 11 service areas.

Bharti, Vodafone and Idea together have 12 million 3G subscribers in India. Bharti Airtel has 6.8 million 3G subscribers (5.2 million active) till December 2012, an increase of about 30 per cent from four million active 3G data users (5.4 million total 3G customers) till September 30, 2012. Idea Cellular has 2.8 million and Vodafone India has 3.3 million 3G customers.

On April 25, government-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited had filed an affidavit before the Supreme Court regarding the 3G intra-circle roaming issue, saying the special leave petition filed by Bharti Airtel should be “dismissed with costs”.

In the affidavit, BSNL had stated Bharti Airtel, along with other law-violating telecom service providers such as Vodafone, Idea Cellular and Tata Teleservices, had formed a cartel and were violating the law pertaining to use of 3G spectrum and the licence terms.

Under scanner

i) May 24 Govt files contempt petition before Delhi High Court against Idea Cellular for violating Supreme Court directive

ii) Claims deliberate and wilful disobedience of the apex court order

iii) April 11 Supreme Court asks Bharti Airtel to not add new 3G customers in the seven circles it does not have the required licences

iv) Ruling applicable on other telecom service providers also

v) Order to be complied with in its entirety

vi) Directive bars telcos from giving 3G services using intra-circle roaming pacts

BS Reporter in New Delhi
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