New Delhi: Under scrutiny for entering into illegal roaming agreement for 3G mobile services, lobby of GSM operators COAI said that any changes in it would deprive users of enjoying seamless high speed data services.

In July this year, in an effort to reduce cost and offer pan-India 3G services, Vodafone, Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular had entered into roaming agreement to serve their respective customers in circles in which they (operators) had failed to get 3G spectrum in the auction last year.

This would help operators offer 3G services to customers in circles where they cannot build their own 3G network as they do not have the licence.

Airtel, Aircel and RCom each owns 3G spectrum licence in 13 of the 22 telecom circles, while Vodafone has it in 10 circles and Idea and the Tatas in nine circles.

Cellular Operators Association (COAI) has written to Trai Chairman J S Sarma saying prior to the 3G/BWA auctions, the Department of Telecom (DoT) had made it clear that "3G/BWA auction is for grant of spectrum and not for grant of licence to provide 3G or BWA services".

Telecom regulator Trai had sought information from service providers on their bilateral agreements for entering into 3G roaming pacts, to ensure that there is no violation of licence terms and conditions.

The DoT had also raised doubts over 3G roaming pacts of companies, which are not having 3G services on pan-India basis.

 In an internal note, the DoT had clarified that a UASL (unified access service licence) licencee cannot offer 3G services, declare a tariff plan or acquire customers in a circle it hasn't been allocated 3G spectrum in.

COAI has contended that a Unified Access Service (UAS) License is technology neutral access service license which allows the provision of all type of access services.

DoT in its note had said under the licence conditions, a licencee providing services has to have its own network. "At present, mandatory roaming or MVNOs are not part of the government's telecom policy," it had added.

The lobby said the roaming arrangements have helped subscribers of operators who have not received 3G spectrum to enjoy high speed data services and also to meet the objectives of encouraging efficient spectrum utilisation and promoting broadband penetration to citizens.

This has also resulted in additional revenue from the roaming subscriber and additional revenue share for the government as well.

COAI said any disallowance of intra-circle roaming will be substantial reversal of DoT's stated position on the issue and a "reinterpretation of the fundamental nature of the technology neutral UASL structure".

It has requested also Trai to share a copy of its report which has been submitted to the DoT.

(Agencies)