The deal will enable RCom to continue its 2G service by using Vodafone's spectrum in Bihar, West Bengal and Assam, where it has only 3G spectrum. The two companies are also in advanced talks to share 3G spectrum in Delhi and Mumbai in order to reduce their operational expenses as well as improve quality of service.

"Reliance Communications and Vodafone have in-principle agreed to sign intra-circle roaming agreements where RCom's 3G customer will be able to fall back on Vodafone's 2G network in five service areas. The deal is expected to be finalised within a week," sources in the know told reporters.

When contacted, Vodafone India spokesperson said, "We are not commenting on this at the moment." Though the 3G and 2G customer break-up is not known in these areas, RCom has had a strong network penetration in these service areas, especially in Bihar.

Vodafone network covers 1,400 towns and about 1.3 lakh villages in these five service areas, one of the sources said. The agreement is similar to 3G-ICR, under which telecom operators without 3G spectrum in a circle use their partner's network to sell and operate the services.

The 3G intra-circle agreement has been held valid by telecom tribunal TDSAT, but the Department of Telecom has challenged it.

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