New Delhi: Taking a tough stand against the operators for violating licence norms, the Telecom Ministry has asked service providers to discontinue their 3G roaming agreements. The Ministry is also weighing the possibility of imposing a penalty on them.

The operators by violating the norms are providing the roaming facility to the users, opined telecom regulator Trai, Law Ministry and DoT.

According to sources, leading operators like Bharti, Vodafone and Idea had entered into agreement with one another to offer 3G mobile services in which they could not succeed in getting spectrum in the auction held last year.

"The decision has been taken that this (3G roaming pacts) is in violation of terms and conditions of the licence will be issuing notices asking them (operators) to stop their service with immediate effect. But on penalty, no decision has been taken yet," Telecom Secretary R Chandrasekhar said.

Other service providers like Tata Teleservices and Aircel had also entered into similar agreements to offer services in six circles. However, they have already discontinued the arrangement.

The Department of Telecom (DoT) had sought a legal opinion on this matter and the Law Ministry had supported the DoT's view.

In an internal note, the DoT had said the roaming agreement among telecom companies for 3G services would lead to a significant loss of revenue to the government. There may also be an impact on revenues from spectrum usage charges collected from operators, the note added.

Even the sector regulator Trai had termed the existing agreement among operators for offering pan-India 3G services, despite not having spectrum in all the circles, as violation of licence norms, a charge rejected by the industry.

The chiefs of three leading telecom firms -- Bharti, Idea and Vodafone -- had then sought Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's intervention in the dispute over the 3G roaming pact, failing which they said they would surrender spectrum.

JPN/Bureau