New Delhi: The government on Friday ordered Vodafone, Idea and Airtel to stop 3G roaming services outside their licence areas within three days and imposed hefty penalties on the first two operators for violating the norms.
The Department of Telecom slapped Rs 550 crore penalty on Vodafone and Rs 300 crore on Idea Cellular for violating 3G service roaming norms, officials said. The DoT notice directing the operators to terminate their 3G roaming pacts came a day after the Delhi High Court set aside its single judge order, which allowed Bharti Airtel to continue providing 3G inter-circle roaming facilities with other service providers.
"It (notice) has been issued today," DoT officials said, confirming the penalty amount on the two companies. They also said that while Airtel has been asked to stop services within 24 hours, the other two companies have been asked to stop 3G services under the roaming pact with other operators within three days. Comments were not received immediately from the three operators.
Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular entered into roaming agreements for providing 3G services in telecom circles where they did not have the spectrum. DoT had earlier issued Rs 350 crore demand notice to Airtel, but the company has not yet paid the fine. The company has approached Supreme Court seeking a review of the High Court order and hearing in the matter is likely to be heard on Monday.
Industry sources said that Vodafone too has applied to be a party in the case before the Apex Court to defend the pact.  In 2010, of the 22 service areas, Airtel acquired 3G spectrum in 13, Vodafone in 9 and Idea Cellular in 11 circles.


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